Brazil Economy Adds Jobs for First Time in Two Years

  • Formal job creation positive for fist time since March 2015
  • A two-year recession has destroyed three million jobs

Brazil ended a 22-month streak of formal job losses in February in a sign that the economy may be emerging from the worst recession in a century.

The country added 35,612 jobs in February in the first monthly increase since March 2015, President Michel Temer said on Thursday at an event in Brasilia, with many of the positions generated in services, agriculture and manufacturing. "This news is important because 35,000 Brazilians have the chance to work and lead a dignified life," he said.

Brazil’s two-year recession has destroyed three million jobs and caused the unemployment rate to soar to a record 12.6 percent. While the weak labor market has helped policy makers tame inflation, it is also hindering a rebound in growth. Economists from Itau said this week that it may take almost another full year before Brazil’s jobless rate finally peaks.

A breakdown of the figures provided by the Labor Ministry showed that job growth was mainly concentrated in the south, south-east and center-west of the country, while positions continue to close in the north and north-east.

The government struck a confident note on the release of the positive numbers. "The rise shows that the measures adopted by the government over the last seven months are putting our country back on track," said Ronaldo Nogueira, the labor minister.

In his speech on Thursday afternoon Temer highlighted other positive economic news, including rapidly slowly inflation, a successful infrastructure auction and Moody’s recent decision to upgrade Brazil’s rating outlook.

The president has touted improvements in Latin America’s largest economy, including high foreign direct investment and a growing trade surplus, as a massive corruption probe reaches his cabinet and inner circle. Temer is also facing a low approval rating, as well as signs of discontent in his coalition base.

Brazil’s gross domestic product contracted 7.2 percent in the past two years, and analysts in a weekly central bank survey expect growth of only 0.48 percent in 2017.

(Corrects final paragraph to say the Brazilian economy contracted 7.2 percent over the past two years.)
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