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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Due to the economic recession Brazil lost over 1.5 million formal job positions in 2015, according to the country’s Labor Ministry, registering the worst result in thirty years. The government, however, is trying to reform labor laws to create opportunities, says Labor Minister, Ronaldo Nogueira.

Workers with formal contracts and documents decreased in 2015
Workers with formal contracts and documents decreased significantly in 2015, photo by Marcos Santos/USP Images

“We have around twenty million (Brazilian workers) who have no work address to work. Brazilians who are out on the streets of their cities seeking an opportunity to work and do not find this opportunity. We need to create jobs with income, either through the formal work, or on their own,” said Nogueira during an event on Friday.

According to the Minister the government will be working on three fronts: updating labor legislation, encouraging collective bargaining and outsourcing. All discussions, however, will not threaten the rights of workers, emphasized the official.

At the beginning of September, local media announced that the Temer government was discussing labor reform which would include the authorization of twelve-hour work shifts. Rumors of possible loss of workers’ rights quickly filled social media networks causing such a commotion that government officials, including the President himself, were forced to quickly reiterate that there would be no withdrawal of rights.

According to the Annual Social Information Report (Rais), released Friday, the number of Brazilians formally in the labor market fell by 3.05 percent last year, with the number of people employed falling from 49.6 million at the end of 2014 to 48.1 million at the end of 2015.

The report shows that the sector which registered the greatest decline in its labor force was industry, with a decline of over 604,000 jobs, followed by construction with a loss of over 393 thousand positions. The only sector which registered a growth of its labor force was the agriculture sector, with an expansion of almost 21,000 posts in 2015.

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