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Worker productivity slowed significantly in the US during the spring - and a key gauge of wage pressures jumped sharply, the Labor Department reported. Productivity increased at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter, far below the 3.6 percent rate of growth during the prior three months. Meanwhile, unit labor costs surged at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the second quarter, the highest rate since the end of 1997.

Mazda Motor Corp. said it would give pay raises to some 500 women and promote two or three of them to management in an effort to counter a sexual bias still common in Japanese companies. Mazda studied the performance and skills of 1,000 women employees and found that 500 deserved either promotions or an improvement in the job grade that determines their salaries, a spokesman said.

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Internet use will save businesses up to $1.25 trillion - close to France's entire gross domestic product - by 2002, a study by Giga Information Group predicted. Savings will come from a wide range of new practices, including reducing the number of people processing sales requests and less-expensive ways to order supplies.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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