January 31, 2018 / 11:54 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's unemployment rate ends 2017 at 14-month low

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By Bruno Federowski

SAO PAULO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Brazil’s jobless rate continued to fall at the end of 2017 due to growing off-the-books employment, ending the year at a 14-month low.

The unemployment rate slipped 0.6 percentage points in the three-months through December to 11.8 percent, government statistics agency IBGE said.

That is a tad below the 11.9 percent median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists and should bring some relief to workers emerging from the nation’s deepest recession in decades.

But under-the-table jobs, which offer fewer benefits and do not entitle people to automatic wage hikes, accounted for nearly all gains in the year, highlighting the labor market’s slow recovery.

Brazil shed nearly 21,000 payroll jobs in 2017 even as the economy likely expanded at the fastest pace in four years.

A sweeping labor reform cutting worker benefits, which came into effect in November, seems as yet to be having little effect on job creation.

That should keep a lid on inflation, which ended last year below the bottom-end of the official target range for the first time ever. Wages when adjusted for inflation were flat in the last three months of 2017, IBGE said.

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell gradually from an all-time high seen in March as Latin America’s largest economy gradually picked up steam. (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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