UPDATE 1-Argentina unemployment steady despite slowdown-president
BUENOS AIRES, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Argentina's unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter, up just slightly from a year earlier even though economic growth decelerated sharply, President Cristina Fernandez said on Monday.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, the jobless rate was 6.7 percent, according to the INDEC statistics institute.
"We are nearly at the same level of record unemployment that we reached in the last quarter of 2011," Fernandez said during a live televised speech.
"We have practically the same unemployment this year, when we're going to grow at 1.8 (percent), as we did when we grew at 8-plus percent."
INDEC is due to release official economic activity data for December and 2012, as well as the fourth-quarter unemployment figures, in mid-February. In 2011, the Argentine economy expanded 8.9 percent.
The president also announced the government will raise the floor for income tax eligibility by 20 percent, responding to demands from the country's labor unions.
Private economists estimate consumer inflation at around 25 percent a year, and wage increases have tended to be in line with that figure.