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Brazil: Over 13 Million Unemployed, 39 Million Low-Quality Jobs

  • A garbage collector works in the Latin American largest city dump in Brasilia, Brazil, Jan. 18, 2017.

    A garbage collector works in the Latin American largest city dump in Brasilia, Brazil, Jan. 18, 2017. | Photo: EFE

Published 4 May 2019

Since January, Bolsonaro's neoliberal policies have worsened the everday situation of at least half of the economically active population.

President Jair Bolsonaro's economic policies have increased the quarterly unemployment rate by 10.2 percent, leaving over 13.4 million people out of work. The scarse job supply is associated with low confidence in the future of the country's economy, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) data released on Thursday.

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"The unemployment increase registered in the first quarter of the Bolsonaro administration already makes voters regret their vote and feel nostalgia for the Workers' Party governments, especially for former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, when there were policies to stimulate growth," local media Brasil 247 commented.

The dramatic statistics were not mentioned in Bolsonaro's Labor Day speech. Rather he preferred to emphasize that his government is committed to "full economic freedom." 

"He is not on the side of the poor, he is on the side of the rich," said Pedro de Santana, a young man who has been unemployed for 10 months. "I don't see him helping me. I voted completely wrong," added Santana.

"To say that Lula was bad for the worker is a lie," Laerte de Paula, a metallurgist, stressed and complained that he has already sent "hundreds of resumes, but nothing happens so far." Activists are planning a June 14 strike against the president's policies.

"To stop attacks to the working class made by the bankers and slave-owning entrepreneurs' mismanagement, only a powerful nationwide strike!" The meme reads "Get ready for the nationwide strike on June 14."

IBGE data also shows an increased underutilization labor rate (LUR) in Brazil.

This is a measure of time-related underemployment which includes people who have "some kind of job" but whose working time is insufficient compared to an alternative employment situation in which they are willing and available to engage.

With the Bolsonaro administration, the Brazilian underutilization rate has reached 25 percent, the highest in country's LUR history.

Rubens Sawaya, a Sao Paulo University economics professor, told Brasil 247 that budget cuts and other measures adopted by Bolsonaro are worsening unemployment rates because his policies are not stimulating domestic consumption and investment.

A non-inclusive, market-oriented economy is pushing millions of Brazilians into the informal economy, earning their living by selling anything in public places or accepting unprotected temporary jobs. Currently, 39.5 million of Brazilians are working in informal, low-quality, self-employment jobs.

"Brazil had always a large number of informal jobs. ... Lately, however, job generation is mostly informal," Marilane Teixeira, labor and gender relations researcher at Unicamp, told to Brasil de Fato, adding that these self-employed have no labor rights.​​​​​​​

About 43 percent of Brazil's economically active population, which was estimated at about 105 million people at the end of 2018, work informally.

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