UPDATE 1-Brazil's jobless rate hits new high; nearly 13 million unemployed

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Brazil’s jobless rate rose more than expected in the three months through January as the recession left nearly 13 million unemployed, a record high, government data showed on Friday.

The unemployment rate rose to 12.6 percent from 11.8 percent in the prior three months, statistics agency IBGE said, compared with market expectations of a 12.4 percent rate.

Brazil’s economy contracted sharply in 2016 for the second year in a row, in its worst recession on record. The unemployment rate stood at 9.5 percent one year ago.

Average wages discounted for inflation rose 0.4 percent from a year earlier, to 2,047 reais ($663.28) a month.

The number of unemployed people rose 34.3 percent from January 2016, to 12.921 million, IBGE said.

$1 = 3.0862 reais Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn