UPDATE 1-Brazil's jobless rate rises in February to nearly 7-year high

miércoles 23 de marzo de 2016 09:31 GYT

(Adds details on wages, background)

BRASILIA, March 23 (Reuters) - The jobless rate in Brazil's main cities rose in February to its highest level since May 2009, and wages continued to fall sharply as Latin America's largest economy sinks deeper into recession.

Brazil's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in six major metropolitan areas rose in February to 8.2 percent from 7.6 percent in January, statistics agency IBGE said on Wednesday. The figure was slightly above market forecasts in a Reuters poll.

Average monthly wages discounted for inflation dropped 1.5 percent from January and 7.5 percent from February 2015 to 2,227.50 reais ($612.57).

IBGE will discontinue the six-city survey of Brazil's urban unemployment rate in March and replace it with the Pnad Contínua national figures. The national unemployment rate stood at 9.3 percent in December.

Brazil's economy is expected to contract sharply in 2016 for the second straight year in the worst forecast downturn for Latin America's biggest country since 1901.

Factories, farms and services companies shed a net 104,582 payroll jobs in February, in the month's worst performance in the past 24 years, government data showed on Tuesday.

($1 = 3.6363 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)