* Brazil adds 1.3 million jobs in 2012 vs 2 million in 2011
* Mining, manufacturing and services hire fewer workers
* Unemployment low despite economic slowdown
By Luciana Otoni
BRASILIA, Jan 25 The once-booming Brazilian
economy created the fewest new jobs in a decade during 2012 as
struggling manufacturing industries and mining companies hired
fewer workers, according to labor ministry data released on
The world's sixth-largest economy added 1.3 million payroll
jobs last year, the worst result since 2003 and way below the 2
million jobs created in 2011.
Facing lower commodity prices and heated competition from
abroad, Brazilian mines, steel mills and makers of goods like
shoes and beverages created fewer jobs last year.
The service sector, which has been the bright spot of
lackluster Brazilian economy, also added fewer jobs last year.
Even as the pace of formal job creation slowed, unemployment
remains at a record low in Brazil, a disparity that some
economists say is due to the way the data is collected.
The national statistics agency IBGE includes both formal and
informal jobs in its calculation of the unemployment rate while
the labor ministry collects data from businesses that have
workers legally registered. Informal jobs range from
self-employed accountants to small business owners.
Record low unemployment remains a paradox in a country that
has experienced two years of painfully slow economic growth. The
Brazilian economy grew about 1 percent in 2012, a far cry from
the red-hot 7.5 percent expansion seen in 2010.
Almost full employment and rising wages have helped
President Dilma Rousseff remain immensely popular even as she
struggles to reignite solid growth with a barrage of tax cuts
and cheap credit.
The labor ministry predicts that Brazil will create more
than 2 million new jobs in 2013 as the economy picks up steam.
Economists say strict labor regulation makes it very
difficult and costly to fire workers, forcing companies to keep
employees on their payroll as they wait for the economy to
Brazil's jobless rate fell more than expected to 4.9 percent
in November and edged closer to an all-time low, an enviable
position compared to developed nations hit by global slowdown.
In Spain, unemployment hit an all-time high of a 26 percent in
the fourth quarter, leaving 6 million people without a job at
the end of last year
Brazil could still face problems if the slow recovery from
near recession in 2011 does not speed up this year. The economy
shed a more-then-expected 497,000 jobs in December,
compared to 408,172 jobs lost in December of 2011.
Companies tend to fire temporary workers in December after
increasing production before the Christmas holidays.