UPDATE 2-Brazil June jobless rate highest in more than a year
* Unemployment rate rises to 6 pct from 5.8 pct in May
* Highest rate since April 2012
* Real wages down 0.2 pct from May
SAO PAULO, July 24 (Reuters) - Brazil's unemployment rate rose in June to the highest level since April 2012, suggesting a very tight labor market in Latin America's largest economy may be easing.
Government data released on Wednesday showed the jobless rate rose to 6.0 percent in June from 5.8 percent in May.
The number was above all forecasts in a Reuters survey of 17 economists, whose estimates ranged from 5.6 percent to 5.9 percent.
Data suggest the labor market may be easing slightly, as the unemployment rate has not fallen since December and new job creation has slowed.
"It's a signal that the labor market is entering into a new phase after years of heating up," said Luciano Rostagno, chief strategist with Banco WestLB in Sao Paulo. "The expectation is that with a drop in business and consumer confidence, the economy will slow in the second half of the year and so will the labor market."
Unemployment is still near historic lows in Brazil, with the tight labor market in some areas contributing to inflation pressure. The government on Monday raised its inflation forecast for 2013 to 5.7 percent from 5.2 percent.
"The increase in unemployment will help keep services inflation from speeding up," said Gustavo Mendonca, an economist with Saga Capital in Rio de Janeiro. But he also said widespread indexation meant there would be no big drop in services inflation.
The report from government statistics agency IBGE showed the number of Brazilians with jobs in the six major metropolitan areas surveyed remained stable in June compared with May and June 2012 at 23 million people.
The number of people who unsuccessfully looked for work was also little changed from May and a year earlier at 1.5 million.
Real wages - salaries discounted for inflation - fell 0.2 percent from May to an average of 1,869.20 reais ($841.98) a month. They rose 0.8 percent from a year earlier.
The unemployment rate, as calculated by the IBGE, tallies jobs in the so-called formal sector, where employers are legally registered, as well as off-the books jobs in the "informal sector."