(MENAFN - AFP) Brazil needs to boost productivity to ensure long-term growth and reduce inequality amid virtually full employment, the government said Wednesday.
"Personal income continues to rise, inequality continues to fall but we can do more. (...) For long-term growth, we need to increase productivity," Strategic Affairs Minister Marcelo Neri told reporters.
Productivity in Brazil has remained virtually unchanged since the 1980s, when it was similar to that of South Korea.
Today, the East Asian powerhouse boasts a productivity four times higher than that of Brazil, according to Ricardo Paes de Barros, the under-secretary for strategic affairs.
He also pointed out that in 1960, China had one tenth of Brazil's productivity but today the two countries have similar rates.
The two officials noted that, thanks to the government's social programs, the poorest 10 percent of the population have seen their incomes rise five times more than those of the wealthiest 10 percent over the past 10 years.
But Neri, who is also head of the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), said Brazil must now do more, including make higher productivity and competitiveness key priorities to ensure long-term growth and reduce poverty.
"Nearly full employment is better than unemployment, but it is also a problem. There is no spare labor available" in this sprawling country of more than 200 million people, he added.
Brazil's jobless rate stood at 5.5 percent last year when the economy grew an anemic 0.9 percent.