Average wages mark 1st rise in 20 months

Average monthly wages including overtime pay at companies with more than five employees rose to 273,142 yen in January, up 0.1 percent from a year earlier, marking the first yearly increase in 20 months, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, average hours worked, including overtime and worked holidays, reached 136.7 hours per month, up 0.3 percent, marking the first yearly increase in 18 months, supporting the view that the economy is picking up, according to a preliminary report produced by the ministry.

In particular, overtime worked by those in the manufacturing sector–a key barometer in assessing changes in economic trends–rose 30.1 percent to 12.1 hours.

Overtime working hours rose 3.4 percent from a year earlier to 9.4 hours.