[TOKYO] Japanese wage earners' total cash earnings rose for a third straight month in February and winter bonuses grew for the first time in six years in 2014, government data showed, a positive sign for Tokyo's efforts to end nearly two decades of deflation.
However, inflation-adjusted real wages fell 2.0 per cent in February from a year earlier, down for a 22nd straight month and hurting household purchasing power.
The rate of decline narrowed from January's 2.3 per cent fall, the labour ministry data showed.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pressuring Japanese firms to raise wages, a step seen as essential to generating a virtuous growth cycle of higher wages and consumer spending leading to higher corporate profits, investment and employment.
The labour ministry data showed wage earners' total cash earnings rose 0.5 per cent to 261,344 yen (US$2,184) in February from a year earlier, up three months in a row, helped by a tight job market.
Year-end bonuses paid between November and January rose 1.9 per cent to 375,431 yen from a year earlier, the first gain in six years. That marked the biggest increase in a decade, on the back of hefty corporate profits.