TOKYO - Japan's real wages dropped for the 11th straight month in January, the government said on Tuesday, as the coronavirus crisis continued to weigh on corporate profits. But the pace of decline in real wages slowed from the previous month in a sign of some recovery. The lingering impact of the pandemic and emergency steps to curb it may continue to pressure businesses and consumer spending. Inflation-adjusted real wages, a key gauge of households' purchasing power, slipped 0.1% in January from a year earlier, after a revised 1.7% decline in December, data from the labour ministry showed. "Wages have been picking up after they fell significantly last spring due to the impact from the coronavirus pandemic," said an official at the health ministry. "But they have not returned to the level before the pandemic." Nominal total cash earnings fell 0.8% in January from a year earlier, down for a 10th straight month, after a revised 3.0% fall in December. Regular pay - or base salary, which makes up most of total cash earnings and determines a wage trend - rose 0.3%, up for the first time in three months, according to the data. Overtime pay, a barometer of strength in corporate activity, declined 6.6% in January from the same period a year earlier, falling for the 17th straight month. Special payments, which include winter bonuses, declined 12.7% in January after a revised 5.1% decline in December. The ministry defines "workers" as 1) those who were employed for more than one month at a company that employed more than five people, or 2) those who were employed on a daily basis or had less than a one-month contract but had worked more than 18 days during the two months before the survey was conducted, at a company that employs more than five people. To view the full tables, see the labour ministry's website at: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/database/db-l/index.html ($1 = 108.4700 yen) REUTERS
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