Households whose breadwinners work for companies spent less in June than a year before, the third straight month of decline and despite the first pickup in income in seven months, the government said in a preliminary report released Tuesday.

Average household spending came to 304,318 yen, down 3.3 percent from a year earlier, while income inched up 0.8 percent to 763,806 yen on higher summer bonuses, according to the report by the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry.

“We need to see the figures for July to determine whether spending is on a downtrend, but the consumption level for June is low, and worrying,” a ministry official said.

Household spending is a key gauge of personal consumption, accounting for about 60 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product. Wage-earning households comprise about 60 percent of total household spending.

Food spending takes the largest slice of household expenditures. It dropped 1.2 percent in the reporting month for the fifth straight decline, due mainly to lower spending on vegetables and meat.

Expenditures on household durable goods plunged 27.4 percent in reaction to the buying spree prior to the April 1 debut of a recycling law.

Spending on air conditioners fell 5.2 percent in value on lower prices, while rising in terms of volume amid the summer demand season.

Among big-ticket items, automobile purchases fell 40.4 percent, and an 8 percent decline was posted for spending on housing, including rent and home renovation.

In contrast, expenditures on telecommunications rose 5 percent for the 15th consecutive increase, mainly on robust use of mobile phones amid the overall economic doldrums.

Increases in spending were also seen in electricity and lighting, up 0.8 percent, in household sundries, up 2 percent, and in medicines and medical equipment, up 1.3 percent.

The seasonally adjusted propensity to consume, the ratio of consumption spending to disposable income, fell to 68.9 percent in June from 70.6 percent in May.

The agency also published average spending data for the April-June quarter.

Wage-earning households spent 323,623 yen on average per month in the April-June quarter, down 3.5 percent from the same period last year, following a 0.6 percent rise in the January-March quarter.

The average monthly income of breadwinners slipped 0.4 percent from a year before to 569,909 yen, down for the eighth consecutive quarter.

Overtime hours fall

Employees in the manufacturing sector worked less overtime in June than a year earlier for the fourth consecutive month of year-on-year decline, underscoring the ongoing sluggishness of business activities, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Tuesday.

Per-worker average overtime at manufacturers came to 12.4 hours, down 8.2 percent from a year earlier, the ministry said in a monthly report covering businesses with at least five employees.

Including nonmanufacturers, average overtime fell 3.2 percent to 9.2 hours for the fourth straight decline.

Given the fewer overtime hours, the average nonregular wage per worker in all industries in June fell 2.8 percent to 17,716 yen, the ministry said.

But the average regularly paid wage rose 0.1 percent to 283,919 yen as the fixed portion rose 0.2 percent to 266,203 yen, it said.

The average overall wage in the reporting month came to 482,003 yen, down 1.7 percent from a year earlier, including summer bonuses and other extra payments that fell 4 percent to 198,084 yen, the ministry said.

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