General Motors Corp. said it has mailed 1988 profit-sharing checks averaging $265 each to 470,000 U.S. hourly and salaried workers, the lowest payout among the Big Three U.S. automakers.

However, the payments by GM were the first for the largest U.S. carmaker since 1985. GM's profit-sharing payments are based on its results in the United States, which had been depressed in recent years due to its slide in market share and its extensive modernization efforts.GM said its profit-sharing payments totaled $114 million.

"Because of your contribution, and because GM has invested substantially in the long-term success of our business, we are hopeful that GM's financial performance will be even better in the future and will enhance both our job security and opportunities for increased profit sharing," the automaker said in a letter to employees.

Ford Motor Co. last week distributed profit sharing payments averaging $2,800 each to its U.S. workers. The payments were down slightly from the record $3,700 each that workers received for 1987.

Chrysler Corp. on Friday distributed $725 per worker to its eligible U.S. employees. The payments at Chrysler are linked to the automaker's executive bonus program. Management gets no bonuses if workers aren't eligible for profit sharing.