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Brazil's unemployment rises to 12.6 percent

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Brazil's jobless rate rose in the quarter through February, hitting a higher than expected 12.6 percent, the government statistics office said Thursday.

The 0.4 percentage point increase on the previous quarter was the second consecutive rise. Analysts polled by the financial newspaper Valor had expected unemployment to reach 12.5 percent.

The December to February period saw 13.1 million people out of work, compared to 12.7 million in November through January.

The nudging up of joblessness follows what had been nine consecutive falls in the index, reflecting what center-right President Michel Temer says is Brazil's steady exit from its deepest recession in history.

Thursday's news could hurt Temer, who has toyed with running in October presidential elections, although he is already Brazil's most unpopular leader on record, with approval ratings in the single digits.

However, compared year on year, Brazil's jobs market is improving. During the same quarter a year ago, there were 426,000 more people unemployed.

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