UPDATE 1-Brazil's jobless rate drops as fewer people seek work
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RIO DE JANEIRO Jan 29 (Reuters) - Brazil's jobless rate returned to historic lows in December, but wages dropped from the month before in another sign that a once-booming labor market was losing momentum.
The non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 4.3 percent in December from 4.8 percent in November, statistics agency IBGE said on Thursday, matching the previous all-time low hit in December 2013.
The number was below the median forecast of 4.6 percent in a Reuters poll of 26 economists.
Brazil's economy ground to a halt in 2014 despite years of repeated attempts by President Dilma Rousseff to support local industries. News of layoffs has spread from car manufacturers to homebuilders, weighing on consumer confidence.
A separate government report showed earlier this week that Brazil's economy added jobs at the slowest pace in 15 years in 2015 as investment plunged.
The IBGE report showed the number of Brazilians with jobs in the six major metropolitan areas surveyed stood at 23.2 million, dropping 0.7 percent from November and rising 0.5 percent from December 2013. The tally of people who unsuccessfully looked for work fell 11.8 percent from November to 1.0 million.
Real wages, or salaries discounted for inflation, fell 1.8 percent from November to an average of 2,122.10 reais ($819) a month. That was 1.6 percent higher than a year earlier.
The unemployment rate, as calculated by the IBGE, tallies jobs in the formal sector, where employees are legally registered, as well as off-the-books jobs in the so-called informal sector. It has remained near record lows despite weaker job growth, mostly because many young adults passed up entering the work force to dedicate more time to training.
($1 = 2.59 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Asher Levine and Silvio Cascione; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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