The international financial crisis has severely hit Latin America's largest economy with 654,000 jobs lost in December, according to Brazil's Labor Ministry.

The December loss was the worst on record since May 1999.

The hardest hit sectors were industry, agribusiness and construction.

On Monday Labor Minister Carlos Lupi told the Associated Press that the job losses were a direct impact of the global crisis.

The data measures the number of formal jobs in Brazil's economy.

Despite the December job losses, Brazil added 1.6 million workers for all of 2008.