Salaried households’ spending up 4.1% on year

In spite of reduced incomes, spending on transport and recreation boosted September outlays

Spending by wage-earning households rose 4.1 percent in September in real terms from a year earlier, after posting a fall of 0.3 percent in August and a rise of 1.3 percent in July, the government said in a preliminary report released Tuesday.

Average monthly spending by wage-earning households came to 322,796 yen, according to the report issued by the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry.

The increase in spending came despite lower income, with the average monthly income of such households down 0.7 percent to 437,701 yen in real terms after adjusting price fluctuations as well as a 1.2 percent slide in disposable income to 362,208 yen.

Personal spending accounts for about 60 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product, and wage-earning households’ outlays make up 60 percent of total personal spending.

Contributing to the increase were higher outlays for transportation, telecommunications and recreation.

Spending on transportation and telecommunications rose a real 14.3 percent from a year earlier, including a 4.7 percent rise in outlays related to automobile purchases, the report says.

“The increase in transportation is attributed to more people going out because of the start of a five-day school week from April and the two three-day weekends in September, compared with only one three-day weekend the previous year,” said Masato Aida, director of the ministry’s consumer statistics division.

Spending on recreation rose 7.5 percent, boosted by increased television and package tour purchases, Aida said.

Of the 10 major spending areas, only two saw lower outlays, with health and medical care down 6.9 percent from a year earlier and rents and other housing-related spending falling 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the average monthly spending by wage-earning households in the July-September quarter rose a real 1.7 percent from the same period a year earlier. 331,390 yen, marking the second consecutive quarter of increase, the ministry said.

The average monthly income fell a real 1.8 percent from a year earlier to 502,395 yen, while disposable income fell 2.3 percent to 420,127 yen, it said.

“Spending in the period seems to be recovering,” the ministry official said. “This year’s spending comes out relatively higher than that of last year because of decreased spending in fiscal 2001 due to the introduction of the Home Appliance Recycling Law in April 2001.”

The law concerns four kinds of appliances: television sets, air conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines.