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BRASILIA, March 15 (Reuters) - Brazil's national unemployment rate remained at 9.0 percent in the three months through December, statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday, unchanged from November and slightly below market expectations in a Reuters poll.
The median forecast of 16 economists surveyed by Reuters projected the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter. Brazil's jobless rate rose sharply from 6.5 percent at end-2014 as the country entered its worst recession in decades.
The national jobless rate is a new indicator created by IBGE to replace its current benchmark for unemployment, which is based on a smaller sample of six major urban areas. That jobless rate is currently at 7.6 percent.
Brazil's economy has had the worst performance of any major country in the world, with more than 1.5 million jobs lost last year as the economy slipped into a long and deep recession.
Economists expect Brazil's unemployment rate to surpass 10 percent in coming months and remain high for years. High joblesness could eventually help the central bank reduce inflation, currently above 10 percent, back to its 4.5 percent target, according to economists.
The survey showed wages also fell last year, in another sign of labor market weakness. Average salaries discounted by inflation dropped 2.0 percent from end-2014 to 1,913 reais ($514.23), according to IBGE.
$1 = 3.7201 Brazilian reais Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama