General Motors Co said on Wednesday it will hire 600 workers for three Brazilian plants in the state of Sao Paulo to boost output as demand for automobiles grows in Latin America's largest economy.

General Motors do Brasil, as GM's local unit is known, said in a statement that it plans to hire 250 workers each for its Sao Caetano do Sul and Sao Jose dos Campos units and a further 100 for its Mogi das Cruzes factory, where production has doubled in the past few months.

GM will give priority to former employees during the recruitment and hiring process, the statement said. The company cut about 1,600 temporary workers in February to cope with the possible impact of the global economic downturn.

The decision underscores the growing importance of Brazil for global automakers as the country's economy recovers much faster than most developed economies from the global recession.

The very expressive growth of the Brazilian auto market is giving us additional breath to boost activity in some of our units, said GM's vice president in Brazil, Jose Carlos Pinheiro Neto, in the statement.

Our expectation is to hit a record sales number in 2009, he noted, without elaborating on the target.

Emerging markets such as Brazil and China have been picking up slack for lagging vehicle sales in the United States, where the worst recession in decades has forced automakers to slash production and seek money from the government to keep afloat.

Chief Executive Fritz Henderson, who plans to visit the country this month, wants to reinvest profits from the Brazilian unit locally to fuel growth. Henderson is expected to announce new investments in Brazil during his visit. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Additional reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr.; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Steve Orlofsky)