(Adds details on job growth, wages)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Brazil’s jobless rate fell slightly in September, setting a new record for the month and helping President Dilma Rousseff in a closely fought election campaign just days before the vote.
Brazil’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 4.9 percent in September from a six-month high of 5.0 percent in August, statistics agency IBGE said on Thursday.
The number was below the median forecast of 5.1 percent in a poll of 29 economists.
It was also the lowest rate for September since 2002, when IBGE adopted the current methodology for its main job market survey. The jobless rate stood at 5.4 percent in September 2013.
Brazil’s economy slipped into recession in the first half of the year and many companies, from manufacturers to retailers, trimmed payrolls. Job creation recovered slightly in August and September, but remained well below the average of the past decade, according to government data.
The state of Brazil’s job market has been a central topic of debate in the ongoing presidential election campaign. Rousseff, who is running for re-election, has boasted that Brazil’s unemployment rate remains among the lowest in the world. Her challenger, Aecio Neves, says Rousseff’s policies are responsible for slowing job growth and an economic recession.
Rousseff and Neves are running neck-and-neck in recent polls ahead of a runoff vote on Sunday.
The number of Brazilians with jobs remained unchanged from August and from September last year at 23.1 million. The number of people who failed to find a job was unchanged from August, dropping 10.9 percent from September 2013 to 1.2 million.
The unemployment rate as calculated by the IBGE tallies jobs in the formal economy, where employees are legally registered, as well as off-the-books jobs in Brazil’s six major urban areas.
Inflation-adjusted wages rose 1.5 percent from September 2013 to an average of 2,067.10 reais ($827) a month. That was 0.1 percent higher than in August. ($1 = 2.498 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Rodrigo VIga Gaier; Writing by Silvio Cascione Editing by W Simon and J.S. Benkoe)