July 28, 2020 / 3:08 PM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 2-Brazil sheds 1.2 mln job in first half of year, but losses slow sharply in June

(Adds economy ministry quote)

By Jamie McGeever and Marcela Ayres

BRASILIA, July 28 (Reuters) - Brazil’s economy lost 1.2 million formal jobs in the first half of the year, official figures showed on Tuesday, but the losses almost evaporated in June, indicating that the labor market is over the worst of the coronavirus crisis.

The economy lost 10,984 formal jobs in June, economy ministry figures showed, by far the smallest monthly decline since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

While it marked the fourth month in a row of jobs losses, the decline was significantly less than that seen in each of the previous three months when hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost.

Work and Pensions Secretary Bruno Bianco said the figures were a clear sign that the labor market is strengthening, and that a “V-shaped” economic rebound is distinctly possible.

“We can celebrate the improvement of the economy and the labor market. We can’t say (for sure) that the recovery will be V-shaped, but these are clear indications that the recovery has started,” Bianco said in an online presentation.

June’s figures followed an upwardly revised 350,000 formal job losses in May and brought the net loss in the first six months of the year to almost 1.2 million.

While June clearly marked an improvement on recent months, the accumulated job losses in the first half of this year are roughly double and treble the same periods in 2015 and 2016, respectively, when Brazil was last in deep recession.

The number of formally registered jobs in Brazil stood at 37.6 million in June, the lowest figure for any June since 2011, the economy ministry said.

So far this year, just over half a million jobs have been lost in the services sector, just under half a million in commerce, and almost a quarter of a million in industry.

Brazil’s official unemployment rate stands at a two-year high of 12.9%, and is expected to rise further in the coming months. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever Editing by Bernadette Baum and Marguerita Choy)

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