April 28, 2017 / 1:01 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's jobless rate sets record for 5th month in March

BRASILIA, April 28 (Reuters) - Brazil’s jobless rate rose to a record for the fifth straight month in March with more than 14 million workers unemployed, government data showed on Friday, illustrating the hardships caused by the country’s deepest recession ever.

Unemployment hit 13.7 percent in the first quarter, statistics agency IBGE said on Friday. That was in line with market expectations in a Reuters poll and up from a rate of 13.2 percent in the three months through February.

Average monthly wages discounted for inflation were nearly unchanged from a year earlier at 2,110 reais ($664.50).

As the economy tumbled, Brazil’s jobless rate has more than doubled since hitting a record low of 6.2 percent in 2013. A mild recovery has gained pace following deep interest rate cuts by the central bank, but economists expect growth this year to be too weak to bring unemployment down.

The Brazilian economy is expected to grow 0.4 percent in 2017 after contracting more than 3 percent in each of the past two years, according to a weekly central bank survey.

The number of unemployed people surged 27.8 percent to 14.2 million in the first quarter from a year earlier, IBGE said.

Among people of working age, those with jobs fell to a record low of 53.1 percent in the first quarter, IBGE added.

($1 = 3.1753 reais)

Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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