SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazil 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 labor ministry said Thursday.
The ministry said 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.
Brazil's IBGE statistics bureau said last week that the jobless rate between August and October of last year came in at 9 percent, compared to 8.6 percent in the previous three-month period and 6.6 percent a year earlier.
It was the highest jobless rate since 2012.
Reacting to those figures, President Dilma Rousseff told reporters that her government was determined to lower jobless rates, saying "Unemployment is the government's biggest concern."
Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund said the recession affecting Latin America's biggest country will continue in 2016 with output contracting 3.5 percent.
There will be no growth in 2017 and economic growth should resume in 2018, the IMF said.
Gilberto Braga, an analyst at Rio de Janeiro's Brazilian Capital Markets Institute said rising unemployment has reduced consumption contributing to the economic crisis buffeting Brazil.
He said the uncertainties regarding China's economy will have a major impact on Brazil.
"China is Brazil's largest trading partner and Brazil's economy will suffer a lot if China does not grow more than 8 percent a year," he said.
Office cleaning lady Zelma da Silva said she was lucky because unlike many people she knows she has a job.
"Those who have work are afraid of being fired and will do anything to hold on to their jobs," the 45-year-old da Silva said.