Japan’s latest wage figures show that pay gains have now lagged inflation every month for two years, even as a measure of the deeper trend points to steady growth.

Real wages fell 2.5% from a year earlier in March, marking the deepest drop in four months and running the streak of declines to exactly 24 months, the labor ministry reported Thursday. The consensus estimate was for a 1.4% decrease. Growth in nominal cash earnings for workers slowed to 0.6%, also missing forecasts.

The slowdown in nominal wages was exacerbated by a 9.4% drop in bonuses. Data for full-time workers that avoid sampling problems and exclude bonuses and overtime pay grew by 2.3%. This index, which is watched closely by the Bank of Japan, remained at or above the 2% threshold for a seventh month, in a sign of steady underlying salary growth.