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Almost 80 percent of new hires put work before romance, reflecting the grim situation young people are facing amid the tough job market, according to a survey by the Japan Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development released Tuesday.

When asked what they would do if they were ordered to work overtime on the day they had a date lined up, 79 percent said they would stay on the job.

Women seem more inclined to do so, with 85 percent saying they would clock in the extra hours, compared with 75 percent of men.

“The survey results show young workers are not optimistic about their future under the prolonged economic slump,” said sociologist Natsuki Iwama, who conducted the survey.

Iwama said women were more likely to shelve romance for work because “they believe they need to show their dedication since they face more difficulties in this society.”

While only 14 percent of the respondents said they want to work at one company until retirement, 40 percent expressed concern that they might fall under the restructuring ax at one time or another.

Ninety-four percent of the respondents said they want to obtain skills they can use anywhere.

The center surveyed some 3,700 new employees who graduated from high school and college in the spring.

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