The households of salaried workers in Japan spent less in fiscal 2001 than they did the previous year, a record fifth straight year of decline, a government survey showed Friday.

Wage-earning households spent an average of 332,587 yen per month in the fiscal year that ended March 31, down an inflation-adjusted 1.3 percent from the previous year, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications said.

Per capita spending declined 1.8 percent to 95,571 yen.

Household spending accounts for about 60 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product and wage-earning households’ outlays make up some 60 percent of total household spending.

Spending on food edged down 0.7 percent and that on clothes and footwear slipped 2.9 percent, both down for the 11th consecutive year.

Among food items, spending on beef plunged 22.4 percent, due to the discovery of mad cow disease in Japan last fall. However, spending on chicken rose 6.1 percent and that on pork 6.4 percent, a ministry official said.

The monthly income of salaried workers’ households inched up a real 0.3 percent to 553,006 yen in fiscal 2001, posting the first increase in five years.

The disposable income of such households rose 0.3 percent in real terms to 466,060 yen, also for the first rise in five years.

In March, spending by salaried workers’ households dropped an inflation-adjusted 1.2 percent from a year earlier to an average of 359,314 yen, down for the second straight month.

The ministry attributed the fall chiefly to a 21.5 percent decline in spending on education and an 11.6 percent drop in spending on housing.

But spending on clothes and footwear rose 3.1 percent, as retailers started selling spring clothing earlier than usual due to this year’s unusually warm weather, the ministry official said.

Spending on food increased 4.4 percent during the month, with increased dining out the main reason, according to the ministry.

The average income of salaried workers’ households in March rose 4.4 percent in real terms to 494,375 yen, while their disposable income grew a real 4.2 percent to 413,829 yen.

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