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Monthly scheduled pay at firms employing at least five workers averaged 251,892 yen per person in the year to March, down 0.4 percent from the previous year, due to a steep fall posted by business concerns with workforces of fewer than 30, according to preliminary government survey results released Friday.

The decline for fiscal 2006 came after the first rise in seven years the year before on the back of a strong recovery in corporate earnings, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

Nonscheduled pay comprising overtime and other nonregular allowances climbed 2 percent to 19,780 yen, and special remuneration, including semiannual bonuses, rose 1 percent to 62,702 yen per month.

The data suggest companies are setting salaries more in tune with fluctuations in business profits, so pay raises will come in the form of increased bonuses in good times.

The total of scheduled and nonscheduled cash salaries edged down 0.2 percent on an index basis (the base of 100 is from fiscal 2005) and adjusted for inflation, the first fall in two years.

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