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Average overtime hours at manufacturers plunged 12.9 percent in February from a year earlier to 12.5 hours, the 12th consecutive month of year-to-year decline, according to a government report released Monday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said overtime in all industries declined 5.4 percent to an average of 9.3 hours in February.

Overtime is a leading economic indicator of corporate activity. The survey on overtime covered businesses with at least five employees.

The average nonregular monthly wage per worker in all industries sagged 6.7 percent to 17,621 yen, while the average regular wage edged down 0.2 percent to 262,460 yen, the ministry said.

As a result, the average overall wage totaled 280,081 yen, down 0.6 percent.

The ministry said winter bonuses paid at the end of 2001 fell 3.7 percent to an average of 454,251 yen, the biggest drop percentage-wise on record. The compilation of such statistics started in 1991.

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