Brazil's labor ministry says the country lost 1.5 million payroll jobs in 2015 amid a contracting economy that has led to high inflation and layoffs in the manufacturing and service sectors.

The ministry said Thursday that 39.7 million workers were formally employed at the end of last year, compared to 41.2 million at the end of 2014 and 40.8 million in 2013.

Labor Minister Miguel Rossetto said last year's job creation figures are the worst since they started being compiled in 1992.

Most of the lost payroll jobs were in the industrial and civil construction sectors.

The only positive job creation figures were posted by the agricultural sector, where close to 10,000 new positions were opened.