Japan reports inflation, household spending, wages soften in Feb in sluggish recovery

TOKYO – Japan has reported lacklustre inflation and wages data for February that suggest its economic recovery remains in the doldrums.

The government said Friday that core inflation was 2.0 per cent in February, down from 2.2 per cent in January. Excluding the impact of an April 2014 sales tax hike, inflation was flat.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to spur growth through extreme monetary easing by the central bank that is meant to drive prices higher, prompting consumers and businesses to accelerate their spending.

But household spending fell 2.9 per cent from a year earlier in February, while base wages slipped 1.9 per cent, the 13th straight monthly decline. Sluggish wage growth has hurt consumers’ purchasing power.

In a positive sign, unemployment fell to 3.5 per cent in February from 3.6 per cent the month before.