INSIGHT-Brazil's slump hits job market as election approaches
By Brad Haynes and Silvio Cascione
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA Aug 22 (Reuters) - Many of Brazil's biggest retailers, homebuilders and carmakers are cutting jobs as Latin America's largest economy teeters on the edge of recession, a fresh blow to President Dilma Rousseff's re-election bid.
For years, low unemployment was key to Brazil's emergence as an economic power and important gains in the fight against poverty.
The unemployment rate remains near record lows of around 5 percent and the leftist Rousseff regularly touts it as a success of the ruling Workers' Party over the last 12 years.
But after a decade of good news, the labor market is showing signs of weakness, possibly depriving her of a trump card in the October election.
Industries from textiles to steel have been trimming payrolls since last year due to weak economic growth, cost inflation, high taxes and a tough exchange rate.
Now jobs are disappearing in retail, construction and food processing, which had been reliable engines for growth and new employment over the last decade.
Even automakers, one of the big beneficiaries of Brazil's economic boom last decade, have cut thousands of jobs as they idle assembly lines in the face of slumping consumer demand.
The economic slowdown has deepened since the World Cup soccer tournament that ended last month, threatening to undercut Rousseff's re-election campaign as retail workers like 27-year-old Evandro Dias lose their jobs. Continuación...