Japan's household spending, real wages extend slump

TOKYO • Japan’s household spending fell for an 11th straight month in August and real wages marked half a year of declines, as consumers struggled to return to their pre-pandemic purchasing habits.

Analysts see the economy picking up from a slump caused by the coronavirus but weak spending and wage figures highlight the challenges new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga faces as he works to revive the economy.

Household spending declined 6.9 per cent in August from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, matching a median forecast in a Reuters poll.

The pace of decline slowed after hitting a record 16.2 per cent in May, when people stayed at home to prevent the virus infection under a nationwide shutdown.

The government lifted the emergency measures in late May and business activity has gradually resumed.

Compared with the previous month, household spending rose 1.7 per cent in August after a 6.5 per cent decline in July.

Separate data yesterday showed the nation’s inflation-adjusted real wages fell 1.4 per cent in August from a year earlier, down for the sixth straight month, reflecting a big drop in overtime.

The economy tumbled deeper into recession in the June quarter as the coronavirus jolted global demand. Analysts said it will take time for pre-pandemic levels of activity to return.

REUTERS

6.9%

The percentage by which household spending in Japan declined in August from a year earlier.

1.7%

The percentage by which household spending increased in August from a month earlier.

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