2009 saw record 3.9% fall in monthly wages

Kyodo News

Average monthly wages at companies with at least five employees fell 3.9 percent in 2009 from the previous year to ¥315,164, marking the biggest percentage drop since officials began compiling comparative data in 1991, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Tuesday.

The third consecutive yearly decline apparently reflects corporate moves to cut overtime hours and bonus payments amid the prolonged recession.

Of the total wages paid in 2009, scheduled pay, including base salary, dipped 1.2 percent to ¥245,758, while nonscheduled pay, including overtime pay, plunged 13.5 percent to ¥16,672 for the largest-ever decline, the ministry said in a preliminary estimate.

Special payments such as bonuses tumbled 12.1 percent to an average of ¥52,734, also the largest-ever fall, the ministry said.

Average overtime hours in the year came to 9.2 hours per month, down 15.2 percent from 2008.

Monthly overtime hours in the manufacturing sector, an important economic indicator, plummeted 32.2 percent to 10.5 hours.

The number of regular employees and other types of worker who work full time decreased 0.9 percent to about 31.99 million while that of part-timers increased 2.6 percent to about 12 million, the ministry said.

The average pay at the companies stood at ¥549,259 in December, down 6.1 percent from a year before, the ministry said in a preliminary report. Winter bonuses are usually paid in December.

Special payments such as bonuses plunged 10.6 percent to an average of ¥285,606 in December, the ministry said.