Brazil unemployment hits three-year high of 13.3%, underlying picture even weaker


By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Brazil's unemployment rate rose to a three-year high of 13.3%, official figures showed on Thursday, as the coronavirus-fueled shock to the economy continued to inflict severe damage on the labor market, particularly the services sector.

That was only slightly higher than the 13.2% economists had expected, but the underlying figures were uniformly weak and suggest the labor market is far more fragile than the official headline rate would indicate.

A record number of Brazilians are out of the workforce completely, a record low number as a share of the working population have a job, and the underemployment rate surged to an all-time high, statistics agency IBGE said.

The headline 13.3% unemployment rate in Latin America's largest economy in the three months to June was the highest since the three months to May 2017.

Job losses in the accommodation and food, household services, construction, and other service sectors were the main drivers, IBGE said.

Only 47.9% of working age people were working, IBGE said, the lowest since the series began in 2012, and down sharply from 53.5% in the prior three-month period. Good morning

Thursday's figures showed that 83.3 million people were working, the lowest number since the series began, IBGE said. That was down almost 8.0 million, or 9.6%, from the same period last year, both record declines.

A record 77.8 million people were out of the workforce, marking a record increase of 10.5 million people, or 15.6%, from the same period last year, IBGE said.

The number of Brazilians officially out of work held relatively steady at 12.8 million, but the number of underemployed rose by 4.3 million to a record 31.9 million, IBGE said. The underemployment rate jumped to 29.1%, also a record.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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