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Brazil’s Average Unemployment Rate Falls to Record Low in 2012
By Dow Jones Business News
January 31, 2013
Brazil’s unemployment rate for 2012 fell to 5.5%, down from the previous record low of 6.0% recorded last year, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, or IBGE, said Thursday. In December, unemployment fell to 4.6% compared with 4.9% in November, besting the previous record monthly low of 4.7% registered in December 2011, the IBGE said
The 2012 average unemployment rate was in line with the 5.5% median estimate of economists polled by the local Estado news agency. Analysts had also pegged December’s unemployment rate at 4.4%.
Brazil’s unemployment rate remains at historically low levels despite sluggish economic activity. Salaries have also been on the upswing in an ominous sign for inflation - a key area of concern for the Brazilian Central Bank after a series of interest rate cuts brought local interest rates to record lows last year. Inflation ended 2012 at 5.84%.
The average monthly Brazilian salary retreated slightly to 1,805.00 Brazilian reais ($908.45) in December, down from the record high BRL1,809.60 registered in November, the IBGE said. Wages trended higher in 2012 as employee groups called on Brazilian companies and the government to increase wages and benefits to counter higher local prices. Companies were also forced to pay more to hire and retain workers because of the country’s low unemployment.
The IBGE measures unemployment in six of Brazil’s largest metropolitan areas, including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Recife and Porto Alegre. Brazil’s unemployment rate, however, is not fully comparable to jobless rates in developed countries as a large portion of the population is either underemployed or works informally without paying taxes. In addition, workers not actively seeking a job in the month before the survey don’t count as unemployed under the IBGE’s methodology. The survey also doesn’t take into account farm workers.