Brazil’s unemployment rate rose more than expected in the first quarter amid a deepening recession and the worst political crisis in decades.
The nation’s jobless rate increased to 10.9 percent in the three months ending in March, up from from 10.2 percent in the prior period. That compares to a median estimate of 10.7 percent from 27 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, and is the highest level recorded since the series began in 2012.
Latin America’s largest economy is tumbling deeper into a two-year recession and job losses are mounting. At the same time above-target inflation has taken a bite out of real wages. That’s weighed on consumer sentiment and on retail sales that have fallen for 11 straight months from the prior year. Activity is also being depressed by the political maelstrom as President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment proceedings.
Brazil’s economy will contract 3.88 percent this year, according to economists surveyed by the central bank, following a 3.85 percent drop in 2015. That marks the worst two-year recession on record. Amid the downturn, 1.85 million formal jobs vanished in the 12 months through March, according to data from the Labor Ministry. That’s also a record for the data series.
The jobless survey has replaced a survey of six metropolitan areas that began in 2001, and which Brazil’s statistics institute discontinued last month. The new survey reflects employment levels in about 3,500 municipalities.