The nation’s minimum hourly wage will rise by ¥1 from the previous year to ¥902 on average in fiscal 2020, the labor ministry said Friday.

The size of the average hike fell to its lowest in 16 years after growing by over ¥20 annually for four consecutive years until fiscal 2019, which ended in April

More time is thus expected to be required to achieve the government’s goal of creating a virtuous economic cycle by raising the minimum wage and spurring consumption.

The Central Minimum Wages Council, which advises the labor minister, has recommended keeping the minimum wage unchanged, citing the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Forty of the 47 prefectures effected hikes of up to ¥3 to narrow regional wage gaps. Nine, including Aomori, Ehime and Kagoshima, raised their minimum wages by ¥3. Eight of the nine had the lowest minimum hourly wage in fiscal 2019.

The minimum wage will be increased by ¥2 in 14 prefectures and by ¥1 in 17 prefectures.

Some prefectural governments have raised wages to prevent workforce outflows, the ministry said.

Seven, including Tokyo, which already had the highest minimum hourly wage, maintained the current levels.

Tokyo will still have the highest minimum wage of ¥1,013. Seven prefectures, including Akita, Tottori, Kochi, Saga and Okinawa, will each have the lowest minimum wage of ¥792.

The gap between highest and lowest will shrink by ¥2 to ¥221.

The new wages will take effect on Oct. 1 or later.

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