Brazil’s unemployment rate falls to 6.8 pct in 2014

Brazil ended 2014 with an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, down from 7.1 percent in the previous year, the country’s official statistics agency, the IBGE, reported on Tuesday.

December equalled the lowest ever monthly rate of unemployment of 4.3 percent, which had last be seen in December 2013, showed the official data.

Seasonal temporary contracts and fewer people seeking work due to the festive period contributed to the fall in the rate of joblessness, according to newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

The IBGE has surveyed Brazil’s six biggest metropolitan regions – São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Salvador and Recife – as part of monthly unemployment reports since 2002.

The new labour figures have come as a surprise to many economists, who expected higher unemployment due to the country’s sluggish economy. Recent central bank surveys of analysts showed the analysts think the Brazilian economy grew just 0.15 percent in 2014, and that it will expand even more slowly in 2015 at 0.13 percent.