According to the findings of the Monthly Labour Survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, monthly total cash earnings of employees in firms with five or more employees increased 0.5 percent in 2000, the first increase in three years.
Per capita monthly cash earnings in 2000 were ¥355,619. While scheduled cash earnings increased only 0.7 percent over the previous year, non-scheduled cash earnings (such as that received for overtime) increased by 4.4 percent. Special cash earnings (such as bonuses) decreased by one percent over the same period due to the decreased payments made last December. The real wage index, incorporating price changes, saw an increase of 1.4 percent over the previous year. Over the same period the average number of total annual hours worked increased 0.7 percent in 2000 to 1,853 hours, the first increase in four years. This reflected an increase of 3.5 percent in overtime, the result of an expansion in production in the manufacturing sector and elsewhere, and was the reason behind the increase in overtime pay.
Findings from another survey have recently been released by the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications the Family Income and Expenditure Survey. The survey found that monthly average consumption per household in 2000 totalled ¥340,977, a 0.6 percent drop from the previous year on a nominal basis. This marked the third consecutive annual drop in household consumption and underlined the extent to which household consumption has stagnated, a situation attributable to the fall in income recorded for the households surveyed due to a drop in bonus payments to public servants.
The Family Income and Expenditure Survey also revealed that regular income of household heads increased in nominal terms by 0.3 percent over the previous year, the first increase in three years. It was the other component of their income package, including bonus payments, that fell along with the income of other household members. As a result, the average monthly disposable income per household (income earned by members of the household minus income tax, social insurance premiums, and so on) was ¥472,823, a 1.4 percent drop from the level of income achieved during the previous year. The drop in household consumption seemed to be attributable in part to a decrease in the size of households. The average number of household members in this survey was 3.46 people while the number in the 1999 survey was 3.52. Consumption per head, in fact, which is unaffected by changes in the size of the household, grew by 1.1 percent over the previous year.
Incidentally, a substantial part of the growth in household consumption was accounted for by the increase in outlays for transportation and communications. This was due to an increase in automobile prices and an increase in telephone fees for mobile phones (which are now quite popular). Spending on clothing and shoes fell (for the tenth consecutive year), as did expenditure on food (for the third consecutive year). The increased purchase of ready-made clothing in different colors and sizes and the proliferation of inexpensive food such as hamburgers account for the decreased outlay on goods in these two categories.
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