The average monthly income of salaried households came to 466,393 yen, down 2.0 percent in real terms, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a preliminary report. The spending figure compares with the average market forecast of a 0.2 percent fall in a Kyodo News survey.
Outlays for entertainment and culture-related items, including flat- screen televisions, rose 10.0 percent and expenditures for durable household goods, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, grew 13.0 percent, backed by the government's "eco-point" incentive program.
The program is intended to promote the purchase of energy efficient consumer electronics appliances as part of the government's stimulus measures. Spending on food fell 0.4 percent, as people refrained from eating out and drinking beer due partly to cooler-than-usual temperatures this summer. Household spending figures are a key indicator of private consumption, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of Japanese gross domestic product.
Still, the number of jobless is 3.61 million people, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a preliminary report. Of the total, 1.24 million had been laid off, up 610,000 from a year ago, the ministry said.
The ratio of job offers to job seekers, standing at a seasonally adjusted 0.42, is the lowest on record. The latest job data were released a day after the Bank of Japan's closely watched Tankan survey said Japanese business confidence improved in the three months to September. It was the second straight quarter of improvement marked for the first time in nearly three years.
New job offers in the manufacturing industry continued to plummet, down 41.3 percent from a year earlier. But it was better than the 46.3 percent drop in July. (Kyodo News)