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Salaried workers’ households spent less in fiscal 2000 than the previous year for a record fourth straight yearly fall, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications said Friday.

Wage-earning households spent an average of 341,335 yen per month in the fiscal year through March 31, down 0.4 percent in real terms from the previous year. But per capita spending nosed up 1.3 percent to 98,652 yen for the first rise in four years.

A ministry official noted that while household spending “has stopped its decline,” the continued climate of poor incomes is keeping purse strings tight.

The overall fall was chiefly attributed to a 2.1 percent fall in spending on food and a 7.7 percent decline in spending on clothes and footwear, both registering a 10th consecutive yearly decrease.

But spending by salaried workers’ households on transportation and telecommunications jumped 11.3 percent, the first upturn in three years, as spending on car purchases and phone calls increased.

In fiscal 2000, their income decreased a real 1.5 percent to 558,424 yen for the fourth straight year of fall. The disposable income of these households shrank by 1.5 percent in real terms to 470,902 yen.

, also for the fourth consecutive year of drop.

Wage-earning households account for roughly 60 percent of the nation’s total household spending. For March, spending by salaried workers’ households rose 1 percent from a year earlier to an average of 369,140 yen for the second straight month of gain.

A 15.7 percent surge in spending on durable goods for homes, including refrigerators and air conditioners, contributed to the rise, the ministry said.

The brisk sales of durable home goods came before a recycling law took effect April 1, which requires users to pay disposal fees.

Spending on food marked a decline of 2.1 percent and that for clothes and footwear fell 3.1 percent in the reporting month.

The average income of salaried workers’ households in March fell 2.2 percent in real terms to 480,863 yen for a fourth consecutive month of decline, while the disposable income fell a real 2 percent to 403,201 yen.

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