• Kyodo News

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Full-time workers’ average monthly wages declined 1.5 percent in 2009 from the previous year to ¥294,500, dropping for the fourth straight year and the sharpest fall since 1976, when comparable data became available, the labor ministry said Wednesday.

“The rate of decline in total wages must have been even faster since the ministry data does not include overtime pay and semiannual bonuses that fluctuate significantly depending on the ups and downs of the economy,” an official with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

With companies continuing to cut down on personnel costs amid the recession, the trend will likely affect the outcome of annual wage negotiations between labor and management this spring, analysts say.

By industry sector, the transportation and mail service business saw the sharpest cut in monthly wages, at 7.5 percent, followed by the wholesale and retail trade at 3.1 percent. The figure for the manufacturing industry slid 1.8 percent.

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