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A business lobbying group's campaign urging companies to pre-pay some of next year's unemployment insurance premiums has been a success, the group's president said.

Employers will get a $400 million break on state unemployment insurance costs next year, said Daniel Walsh, president of the Business Council of New York State.

Over the past three weeks, the council convinced enough businesses to take advantage of a legal quirk that gives employers a tax break by prepaying their unemployment taxes for the first quarter of next year before the end of the month, Walsh said Monday.

The initiative will give businesses a reduction of $63 per employee on their 1998 unemployment tax bills.

The council received commitments from more than 1,000 companies representing 1 million employees. Those payments exceeded the $130 million needed to bring the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to $930 million and enact the cuts, Walsh said.

Unemployment insurance tax rates automatically go down when the fund is at or above 2 percent of the aggregate taxable wage base, said acting labor commissioner James T. Dillon.

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