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Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012

Salarymen out of pocket as average allowance sinks to lowest level since '82

Staff writer

Pocket money carried by salarymen is at its lowest level since 1982, according to a report released by Shinsei Bank.

The Thirty Year White Paper on Salaryman Pocket Money Survey reveals that the average male salaried worker gets an allowance — usually allocated by his wife— of ¥39,756 per month, about half of the ¥77,725 they were receiving at the height of the bubble economy in the 1980s.

"The survey shows that the Heisei Era has been brutal for salarymen," Ryujin Nishikawa, a renowned marketing consultant, said during a news conference Monday at Shinsei Bank's headquarters in Tokyo, referring to the period that began in January 1989.

The survey found that male salaried workers are living on shoestring budgets, eating home-made lunches and skipping drinks after work.

"They are already living on the edge but the consumption tax is going to be hiked in 2014 and 2015, so it is a grave situation," Nishikawa warned.

Shinsei Bank began conducting the poll in 1979, when the average salaryman received an allowance of ¥47,175 per month. That declined to a low of ¥34,100 in 1982. The bubble economy, however, had such a big effect on incomes that the average salaryman was enjoying a monthly allowance of ¥77,725 by 1990.

The 1992 survey showed that salarymen were spending ¥746 on lunch. That has plunged to ¥510 this year. And whereas 27.6 minutes were spent on average to eat lunch in 1993, salarymen in 2012 are gulping down their food in 19.6 minutes.

Reflecting economic trends, pocket money on average continued to fall after the bubble imploded and fell below the ¥40,000 mark in 2004. The last two annual surveys show the number is staying south of that benchmark.

This year's study, conducted online, surveyed a total of 2,000 salaried workers over the age of 20 in April to shed light on how the economic downturn is forcing salarymen to live on extremely tight budgets.

According to the survey, the average salaryman is spending only ¥2,860 when he goes out to drink, compared with ¥6,160 in 2001.

Many replied that they are using thermos bottles at work to reduce money spent on bottled drinks.

While only 22.6 percent in 2010 answered that they do not eat out, the number jumped to 35.8 percent in 2011 and to 37.9 percent this year.

"We believe this is a sign that people are choosing to stay at home and drink at home" to save money, a Shinsei Bank employee explained.

Meanwhile, married salarymen with children are receiving approximately ¥15,000 less than their unwed counterparts, the survey showed.

Among those surveyed in 1985, 38.6 percent said they were trying to save money by cutting down on taxi use, but 31.1 percent this year said they are spending less on lunch and 22.3 percent are choosing not to go out drinking.

Only 17.8 percent replied that they are trying to reduce expenditures on taxis, while many don't even consider such travel an option, the bank employee said.

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