SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) _ With attrition going more slowly than expected, Intel Corp. has instituted a ``voluntary separation program'' to help meet its job-cut goals, company officials said Tuesday.

The chip giant, whose first-quarter profits plunged 82 percent, announced in March that it would cut 5,000 jobs, or 6 percent of its work force, by the end of the year through attrition.

The pace of voluntary departures, however, is behind the company's usual annual rate of 7 percent to 8 percent as layoffs have become a common drumbeat in the high-tech industry, said company spokesman Robert Manetta.

``Obviously there aren't the same job opportunities out there as there were six months ago,'' he said.

The separation program _ which Intel has used during previous downturns _ offers several months severance pay along with a prorated bonus and additional pay depending on the employee's business unit and how long the employee has been with the company.

___

On the Net:

http://www.intel.com