June 29, 2020 / 6:40 PM / 4 days ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil loses 332k jobs in May, but pace slows from record fall in April

(Adds detail, comment)

By Jamie McGeever

BRASILIA, June 29 (Reuters) - Brazil’s economy lost 331,901 formal jobs in May, the Economy Ministry said on Monday, but less than half the previous month’s record loss due to the COVID-19 crisis, suggesting the worst may be over.

The underlying numbers also show, however, that the labor market remains fragile, with real average wages falling more than 4% in the space of a month and the formal jobs sector shrinking to its smallest for any month of May since 2011.

May’s decline followed April’s record 902,841 jobs lost, revised upward from 860,503, and brought the total number of formal jobs lost in the first five months of the year to 1.14 million, the ministry said.

“We can never celebrate jobs being lost, but we can celebrate the economy improving,” Work and Pensions Secretary Bruno Bianco told reporters in a virtual press conference, noting that hiring rose 14% in May from April.

“No job lost can be seen as a good thing... but the clear reaction of the labor market and the economy in May from the month before gives us hope,” he said.

The formal jobs data, known locally by the acronym ‘CAGED’, come a day before statistic agency IBGE’s official labor market figures for May, which are expected to show another rise in the unemployment rate from 12.6% in the three months to April.

According to the Economy Ministry on Monday, the average monthly salary in Brazil fell 4.35% to 1,731.33 reais ($319) in May from April in real terms, taking into account inflation.

The number of “CAGED”-registered jobs in Brazil fell to 37.7 million, the lowest total for any month of May since 2011, and down 8.5% from the peak in May 2014, the ministry added.

($1 = 5.43 reais)

Reporting by Jamie McGeever, Editing by Franklin Paul and Dan Grebler

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