Brazil unemployment eases to 11.9%

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Brazil's unemployment rate fell for the sixth straight month in September, according to government data Tuesday, two days after far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro was elected president on a promise of sweeping change.

The jobless rate -- measured in sliding three-month intervals -- was 11.9 percent for the period from July to September, down from 12.1 percent from June to August.

Despite six straight months of decline, there are still 12.5 million people seeking work in Brazil, which is coming off the worst recession in its history in 2015-2016 and still struggling with a weak economy.

The government statistics institute cautioned that the drop in unemployment is tempered by the fact that job-seekers are increasingly finding work in the informal sector.

"The problem with this (employment) upturn is that it mostly corresponds to undeclared jobs or the self-employed," said Cimar Azeredo of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.

Bolsonaro's victory Sunday night was partly thanks to his promise of a change in economic direction.

The former army captain has confessed he himself understands "nothing" about economics, but has a top economic advisor well-liked by the markets, liberal economist Paulo Guedes.

A debt hawk, Guedes vowed after Bolsonaro's win to overhaul Brazil's economic model, reform the bloated pension system and privatize state enterprises.

Bolsonaro has said Guedes will head an economy "super-ministry" bringing together the finance, trade and planning portfolios after he takes office on January 1.

After growing one percent last year, Brazil, the world's eighth-largest economy, is forecast to grow about 1.4 percent this year.