• Kyodo

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Average monthly pay for workers climbed 0.7 percent in March from a year earlier to ¥276,740, the first increase in three months, the labor ministry said Wednesday in a preliminary report.

Increased overtime pay and bonuses amid the slowly recovering economy pushed up the total figure, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry report.

Nonscheduled cash earnings, including overtime pay, grew 4.8 percent to ¥20,123 per month, while additional earnings, including bonus payments, surged 14.8 percent to ¥15,961. But the average basic salary fell for the 22nd straight month, declining 0.4 percent to ¥240,656.

“The reason for the decline is that employment has increased for jobs with relatively low wages in the medical and welfare sectors,” a labor ministry official said.

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