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UPDATE 1-Brazil unemployment insurance claims in August fall by nearly a fifth

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BRASILIA, Sept 10 (Reuters) - New unemployment insurance claims in Brazil fell sharply in August, figures showed on Thursday, another sign that the labor market has passed the worst of the coronavirus crisis, although the total number of claims shows it is still under strain.

New claims totaled 463,835 in August, economy ministry figures showed, down 18.7% from the month before and down 18.2% from August last year.

That marked the third consecutive monthly fall in new claims since the record of nearly 1 million in May, although the total 4.99 million claims in the first eight months of this year is still up 7.5% on the same period a year ago, the ministry said.

Services and retail together accounted for 70% of new claims last month, industry 15%, construction 10% and agriculture 5%, the ministry said.

Some labor market indicators point to a pretty solid recovery from the depths of the crisis earlier this year.

Job growth in the manufacturing sector hit a 10-year high in August, according to IHS Markit’s purchasing managers index figures, and formal job growth in July was the strongest for that month since 2012.

But the dominant services sector is still shedding jobs, IHS Markit data show, while more broadly, a record number of Brazilians are out of the workforce completely, a record low number as a share of the working population have a job, and the underemployment rate is at an all-time high. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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