Brazil unemployment rates reached 11.9 percent in the last trimester ending in November, counting 12.1 million Brazilians out of work. This is the highest level of unemployment since 2012 when the national research institute IBGE first started recording such numbers.
A year ago, unemployment was at 9 percent, making for a 33.1 percent increase. Simply put, an additional 3 million Brazilians have been in search of work since this time last year. Rates have even gone up since the last trimester, which ended in August at 11.8 percent.
In fact, these latest unemployment numbers could be much worse. The rate doesn’t include the increase in people who have simply stopped actively looking for work. Indeed, those considered “outside of the workforce” also increased by 1.5 percent since last year, representing 967,000 workers.
After 10 consecutive trimesters of rising unemployment numbers, it might seem like the rate is slowing down. However, this could just result from the decrease in people looking for work so close to the holidays. Ultimately, the average unemployment rate for 2016 still comes in at a record high of 11.2 percent. Researchers project an average of 11.5 percent unemployment once they include numbers from the last months of the year. Last year’s average unemployment rate was 8.5 percent.
The number of working Brazilians also decreased by 2.1 percent from the previous year. Researchers estimate 90.2 million Brazilians are employed as we close out 2016, down 1.9 million from 2015.
Average income remained relatively stable, at 2,032 BRL and a mass total of 178.9 billion BRL, down 2 percent from 2015.
Who was working in 2016
In comparison with last year’s numbers, certain job groups remained stable. Domestic workers, such as maids, nannies, and in-home workers, mostly kept their jobs. Employment in the public, commercial, and transportation sectors remained stable, while the agricultural and construction sectors lost jobs. Unregistered employees and employers actually increased in numbers, while the self-employed and registered employees fell.
Unemployment in 2017
Researchers expect numbers to increase even more in the first trimester of 2017. Due to seasonality, many temporary contracts will end and more Brazilians will take up the job search again. Those who would like to work but aren’t actively searching, referred to as the “potential workforce,” are steadily growing in numbers.
Meanwhile, projections for Brazil’s economy are looking as bad as ever for the coming year. With a shrinking GDP, massive public debt, and a dozen states in the red, unemployment rates should exceed 12 percent in 2017.