Kyodo News

Spending by wage-earning households fell by a real 2 percent in January from a year earlier, down for the fourth consecutive month, partly due to smaller winter bonuses, the government said Friday.

The average monthly spending of such households came to 319,809 yen, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

The margin of decline shrank from the 3.5 percent fall registered in December, but the ministry said the basic trend remains unchanged.

“The trend on spending seems to be that it is moving relatively flat,” a ministry official said.

The average monthly income of households of salaried workers fell 4.7 percent to 436,443 yen in real terms, taking into account price fluctuations. Disposable income decreased a real 4.8 percent to 365,040 yen.

Personal spending accounts for about 60 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product, and wage-earning households’ outlays make up 60 percent of total personal spending.

The average monthly income of such households in real terms dropped for the 10th consecutive month, and spending on food dropped by 3.6 percent, that on furniture and other household goods by 5.6 percent, and that on culture and entertainment by 4.9 percent.

Spending on transportation and telecommunications dropped by 0.6 percent, but spending on health and medical care increased by 13.5 percent.

The ministry official said the increase may be attributed to many people coming down with influenza.

Spending on education increased by 5.8 percent, and that on housing and rent went up by 1.5 percent. Outlays for water, fuel and electricity rose 1.4 percent, according to the ministry.

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