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By Jamie McGeever
BRASILIA, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Brazil’s jobless rate held steady at 11.8% in the three months through September, statistics agency IBGE said on Thursday, greater than expected and an indication that a high degree of slack continues to hold back Latin America’s largest economy.
The unemployment rate, which was at 11.8% for a third month in a row, will come as a disappointment to economists who had predicted a fall to what would have been a low for the year of 11.6%, according to the median estimate in a Reuters poll.
In a statement on Wednesday accompanying its decision to cut benchmark interest rates to a new record low of 5%, Brazil’s central bank added a warning that “inertia” in the economy could help keep inflation lower than it would like.
The number of Brazilians out of work fell by 251,000 in the three months to September from the preceding three months, or by 2%, to 12.5 million. That was statistically unchanged, however, from 12.5 million people a year ago, IBGE said.
“The number of vacancies is falling and there was a consistent improvement in the quarter, but it was marginal,” Jason Vieira, chief economist at Infinity Asset Management in Sao Paulo.
The underemployment rate, which hit a record 25% earlier this year, fell 0.8 percentage point to 24% from the preceding quarter, but again was barely changed from 24.1% in the same period last year, IBGE said.
It was a similar picture with the number of underemployed workers in Brazil: down 952,000 people, or 3.4%, to 27.5 million from the prior three months, IBGE said, but “statistically stable” from 27.2 million a year earlier.
The number of formally registered private sector employees held relatively steady at 33.1 million, and the number of self-employed rose to a record 24.4 million, IBGE said. The number of un-registered workers also rose to a record 11.8 million.
Average household real income dipped 0.1% to 2,298 reais a month ($579), but that’s only up 0.1% over the past year, IBGE said.
($1 = 3.97 reais)
Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Bernadette Baum