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The labor ministry said 52.5 percent of companies it surveyed in September carried out layoffs and other employment-related adjustments between September 1998 and August 2000.

Of those companies that carried out employment-related adjustments during the two-year period, 78.7 percent said they were prepared to continue adjusting their workforces, according to the Labor, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.

The ministry sent survey questionnaires to about 4,500 companies with 30 or more employees, and 79.9 percent replied.

Responding to a multiple-choice question on specific adjustments, 26.6 percent of the firms said they scaled back or postponed recruitment of new workers, while 23.6 percent said they placed restrictions on overtime work and 17.7 percent carried out layoffs or early retirement programs.

The number of employees who left voluntarily or were laid off averaged 21.1 per company during the two-year period. In the financial and insurance sector, the average was as high as 70.9.

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