Chile Jobless Rate Ends Year at 6.1% as Farms Step Up Hiring

Chile´s unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in the three months through December as hiring picked up in the farming and mining industries, the National Statistics Institute said.

The median estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for the jobless rate to fall to 6 percent from 6.2 percent in the three months through November. Unemployment declined from 6.6 percent at the end of 2011, the institute said in a report today.

The improving jobs market has helped fuel an increase in consumer spending that offset the slower increase in manufacturing last year. According to a separate study by the Universidad de Chile released last week, unemployment in Santiago dropped to 5.2 percent in December, the lowest since June 1973.

“Data shows a dual speed of growth between sectors tied to internal demand and those more exposed to external conditions,” Sebastian Senzacqua, an analyst at BICE Inversiones, wrote in a note e-mailed to investors yesterday. “Still, we anticipate that early on in the year household consumption may show a certain degree of moderation.”

The peso fell 0.2 percent to 472.00 per U.S. dollar at 9:06 a.m. local time.

The manufacturing index, which includes production of food, wood products and chemicals, rose 2.4 percent last year while retail sales surged 8.8 percent, the institute said in a separate report published yesterday.

Gross domestic product increased an estimated 5.45 percent last year, the fastest pace in South America behind Peru, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. GDP gains will slow to about 4.5 percent from 2012, according to the poll.

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