Shinzo Abe

Japanese salarymen see pocket money shrink under Abenomics

Japanese husbands' spending suffers as wives tighten purse strings amid economic uncertainty

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 2:30am

The average Japanese husband's monthly allowance slumped to the lowest level since 1982 at the start of the country's financial year as workers awaited the dividends promised by Abenomics.

Salarymen's spending money, typically set by wives managing family budgets, was ¥38,457 (HK$2,996) down 3 per cent from last year and less than half the 1990 peak, according to Shinsei Bank, a Tokyo-based lender whose data go back to 1979.

The latest survey of 2,000 people was conducted on April 20 and 22 via the internet, a report published last week showed.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledging to revive the world's third-largest economy through unprecedented monetary expansion, fiscal stimulus and business deregulation, salarymen have allotted more of their budgets to going out drinking.

They went out an average 2.2 times a month, spending ¥3,474 yen each time, up 21 per cent from last year, the report showed.

"[The] husbands' allowance is the most lagging indicator of Japan's economy, while female spending is the first to increase," said Hiroshi Miyazaki, a senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo, who says his own ration has been unchanged for a while. "Japanese salarymen don't have to be pessimistic. Their pocket money should gradually increase to reflect Japan's recovery."

Japanese salarymen don't have to be pessimistic. Their pocket money should gradually increase to reflect Japan's recovery

In a sign that the benefits of a growing economy and that rising company profits aren't yet flowing through to workers, salaries were unchanged in May from a year earlier, the Labour Ministry said.

The average monthly wage for a Japanese worker was ¥314,127 last year, according to the ministry's figures.

The government will create a panel to encourage companies to raise wages, said Yuzuru Takeuchi, parliamentary secretary for finance, in an interview last month.

Wages fell or were unchanged in 11 of 12 months through May, even as Japanese companies' stockpiles of cash rose to a record, exceeding the size of Italy's economy, Bank of Japan data for the first quarter showed last month.

Abe's three-pronged strategy of ending deflation and stoking growth has boosted the net worth of Japanese households by fuelling gains in the stock market.

Household assets climbed even as salaries have dropped, rising 4.7 per cent to ¥1,207 trillion in the first three months of this year, the highest since 2007, before the global financial crisis.