Statistics agency IBGE said output declined 1.3% from the previous month, compared with the median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists for a 0.1% rise. March's figure was revised to a 2.2% fall from a 2.4% decline.
February's 0.7% fall in industrial output was significantly weaker than the median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists for a 0.4% rise. The following chart shows that several months of slowing growth have finally turned into outright decline.
Statistics agency IBGE said the year-on-year rise was 0.4%, also well below the Reuters poll forecast of 1.5% growth.
In a press release following figures that showed the economy shrank 4.1% last year, the ministry said supportive monetary policy, widespread vaccinations, fiscal consolidation and structural reforms will boost confidence as the year progresses.
The average unemployment rate last year was 13.5%, IBGE said, up from 11.9% the year before and the highest since the series began eight years ago.
The IBGE figures showed 86.2 million Brazilians had work, up 4.5%, or 3.7 million people, from the July-September period, although still down 8.9%, or 8.4 million people, from the same period a year earlier.
The public sector surplus excluding interest payments of 58.4 billion reais was more than the 50 billion reais surplus forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and the overall deficit in the 12 months through January was worth 9.4% of gross domestic product.
The public sector deficit in December excluding interest payments was 51.8 billion reais ($9.5 billion), the central bank said, close to the 51.5 billion reais median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists.
The nominal deficit in December including interest payments widened to 75.8 billion reais, the central bank said, resulting in an annual deficit of 1.02 trillion reais, or 13.7% of GDP.