Wages see first rise in 22 months

Wages rose for the first time in 22 months in March after a pickup in manufacturing led to a sharp increase in overtime pay, the labor ministry said in a preliminary report released Friday.

Workers at companies with five employees or more earned ¥275,637 a month on average, with overtime and other nonscheduled pay gaining 11.7 percent to ¥18,204, the ministry said.

Their scheduled pay, however, shrank 0.2 percent to ¥245,503 on average, marking the 20th consecutive monthly decline.

“It still remains to be seen if overall cash wages will continue growing as they have,” a ministry official said.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said overtime rose 13.3 percent overall in March, led by a sharp 56.1 percent jump in the manufacturing sector.

Overall wages data for January, meanwhile, were revised to a decline of 0.2 percent from the preliminary 0.1 percent gain reported in early March.

Separately, the ministry said a total of 83,114 businesses had applied for government subsidies to maintain employment in March, up 3,378 from the previous month and the first rise in two months.

Although applications from big businesses dropped by 260, those from small businesses leaped by 3,638, it said.