BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s economy created more than a quarter of a million formal jobs in January, official figures showed on Tuesday, the strongest growth for that month since comparable records began in 1992.
The robust figures came after data on Monday showed activity in Latin America’s largest economy was also much stronger in January than economists had expected, indicating a solid start to the year.
“This really is historic, and shows that the economy is once again taking off,” Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said in a virtual press conference, adding that February’s tax revenue figures due in the coming days might also be at record levels.
A net 260,353 formal jobs were created in January, the Economy Ministry said, more than double the 122,000 increase forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, led by industry and services.
The data, however, is for a period before the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic became far more deadly. Since January, tens of thousands of Brazilians have died and several states have gone back into near total lockdown.
Work and Pensions Secretary Bruno Bianco said at the same press conference that President Jair Bolsonaro would soon sign an executive decree extending a job and income protection scheme launched last year at the onset of the pandemic.
Guedes said the program, which expired on Dec. 31, saved 11 million jobs last year.
A net 90,431 industry jobs were created in January, almost all in manufacturing, while a net 83,686 jobs were created in the services sector, the ministry said. In construction 43,498 jobs were created in the month.
The figures on Tuesday showed 1.53 million jobs were created in January overall and 1.27 million were cut. Average salaries rose for a second month, up 1.2% to 1,760 reais a month from 1,740 reais in December, the ministry said.
($1 = 5.59 reais)
(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Richard Chang)