September 29, 2017 / 1:25 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's unemployment rate falls for 5th straight month

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By Bruno Federowski

SAO PAULO, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Brazil’s unemployment rate fell more than expected in the three months through August, extending a run of good news in the labor market as economic growth picks up.

The jobless rate declined to 12.6 percent from 13.3 percent in the three months through May, government statistics agency IBGE said on Friday.

The reading came in below the median forecast of 12.7 percent in a Reuters poll of economists. It was the fifth straight positive monthly surprise.

Falling unemployment is the latest in a string of improving economic indicators, from sales to services activity, that have fanned optimism in Latin America’s largest economy.

Brazil’s jobless rate hit a record high of 13.7 percent earlier this year just as the nation began to emerge from its deepest recession in more than a century. The rebound in employment has surprised many who expected it to lag economic activity.

Still, off-the-books employment accounted for all of the gains, extending a trend that is likely to limit wage growth for the time being.

The number of informal workers, who avoid a heavy tax burden on their salaries but are not entitled to many benefits, rose 2.7 percent, while the number of self-employed people increased 2.1 percent. The number of formal workers remained flat.

Wages discounted for inflation neither grew nor shrank, adding to signs that the nascent economic recovery is unlikely to lift Brazil’s inflation much from 18-year lows.

Mild inflation has allowed the central bank to cut interest rates to their lowest since 2013. (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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