Japan's inflation-adjusted average monthly wage dropped 3.8 percent in November amid higher food and energy prices, marking the sharpest fall in eight years and six months and declining for the eighth straight month, the labor ministry said Friday.

While the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called on firms to raise wages to match inflation in order to create a positive growth cycle, the preliminary figures in the ministry's monthly labor survey show that price increases in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine continue to outpace pay hikes.

Commuters wearing face masks amid COVID-19 concerns walk near JR Tokyo Station in the Japanese capital on Jan. 4, 2023, the first workday of the year for government offices and many companies in the country. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Pay rises are expected to be the main focus of the nation's upcoming annual "shunto" spring wage negotiations between management and labor.

The average total cash earnings per worker for November, including base and overtime pay, rose 0.5 percent to 283,895 yen ($2,120), extending gains to an 11th straight month.

But the rate of increase fell below 1 percent for the first time in 2022, weighed down by a 19.2 percent drop in bonuses and other special compensation payments.

Average base pay and other scheduled wages rose 1.5 percent to 249,550 yen, while overtime pay and other nonscheduled wages rose 5.2 percent to 19,566 yen.

By sector, food services saw the largest increase in monthly gross cash salary with a 5.6 percent rise to 124,340 yen, while education saw the largest drop, down 3.5 percent to 295,139 yen.

Average monthly wages for full-time workers increased 0.2 percent to 368,358 yen, while those of part-time workers rose 2.2 percent to 101,888 yen.

The total hours spent at work fell 0.2 percent to 139.1 hours, falling for the second consecutive month.

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