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  • People line up before filling out applications while looking for job opportunities, in front of the building of an employment agency in Brasilia, Brazil.

    People line up before filling out applications while looking for job opportunities, in front of the building of an employment agency in Brasilia, Brazil. | Photo: Reuters

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Unelected President Michel Temer announced he would fire over 4,600 employees the same day that grim unemployment figures were released.

As unemployment in Brazil jumped to nearly 12 percent in the past quarter, President Michel Temer announced Thursday he will fire more than 4,600 public employees.

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Planning Minister Dyogo de Oliveira said the layoffs, which will save up to US$73 million per year, are meant to boost an economy that has seen a contraction for six quarters in a row.

Over 12.1 million people are currently unemployed in Brazil, the highest number since the country started using current metrics in 2012. The pace of layoffs has increased since former president Dilma Rousseff was impeached and replaced with Temer, who has enacted successive austerity measures to reverse many of the policies put forward by Rousseff, a member of the Workers’ Party, and “overcome” the economic crisis in the new year.

Temer announced the same day that he will seek to reform the country’s tax laws next year, another in a series of controversial proposals to overhaul the South American nation’s pension system and labor code.

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Two weeks before, the Congress approved a highly contentious 20-year freeze on public spending in a move that critics say undermines basic constitutional rights and will punish the poor with caps on federal funding for health care, education and other social programs for the next two decades.

Temer’s government, installed in August with the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff in a move widely condemned as a parliamentary coup, has also pushed for raising the minimum retirement age to 65 and slashing benefits.

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