Brazil’s labor market is in the worst condition for nearly two decades and is heading for a record loss of formal employment, according to market economists and even the government itself.

In the twelve months leading up to July, 780,000 registered jobs were lost, the largest loss of employment since 1996, when the Ministry of Labor’s records began.

The likelihood that the recession will continue this year suggests that this trend will accelerate and pass one million job losses by the end of the year.

Previously, the worst figures had been in 1998, during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, when Brazil lost nearly 580,000 registered jobs.

A study by the Rio de Janeiro Federation of Industry (FIRJAN, in its Portuguese acronym) calculates that 1.2 million to 1.6 million jobs will be lost in 2015.

“Bosses take time to start making redundancies, because the costs associated with it are very high. The private sector held back for as long as it could, but then redundancies start to appear across the board,” says the economist Marcelo de Ávila, who wrote the study.

“We don’t see any sign of improvement in the short term.”

The consulting firm GO Associados predicts the loss of 1.2 million jobs. Another, Tendências, estimates that at least a million jobs will be lost.

“It’s impossible for there not to be a negative record. It’s an irreversible trend. The escalation has been very large,” says Fábio Silveira, from GO Associados.

The market predicts that the Brazilian economy will shrink 2.55% this year, with industrial production falling 6.2%.