Bonuses hit record low for fourth winter

Kyodo

The average winter bonus paid to company employees in 2012 fell 1.5 percent from the year before to ¥365,687, marking a record low for a fourth year in a row, the labor ministry said Tuesday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry traced the lowest bonus since the survey began in 1990 to the strong yen associated with the European sovereign debt crisis, which dealt blows to export-oriented companies, particularly manufacturers.

By industrial sector, employees at construction companies suffered a steep 14.0 percent drop, while restaurant workers saw a 7.1 percent fall. The survey covers companies with five or more employees.

The ministry said bonuses at construction firms appeared to have fallen as the number of construction workers increased after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, resulting in a shorter average length of service in the sector.

Meanwhile, the ministry said the average monthly wage in February sagged 0.7 percent from a year earlier to ¥262,523 for the first fall in two months, with nonscheduled wages, including overtime pay, dropping 3.5 percent for the fifth consecutive monthly fall.