Continuous PNAD

Unemployment levels off at 14.2% in quarter ended January

Section: Social Statistics | Umberlândia Cabral

March 31, 2021 09h00 AM | Last Updated: April 05, 2021 12h53 PM

Informal work pushes employment increase - Photo: Rovena Rosa/Agência Brasil

The number of unemployed persons in Brazil was estimated at 14.3 million in the quarter ended January, biggest number since 2012, start of the time series for the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Continuous PNAD), released today (31) by the IBGE. Although the unemployed rate leveled off at 14.2% from the previous quarter, it is the highest for a quarter ended January. The number of employed persons increased by 86 million. That represents 1.7 million persons more in the labor market versus the quarter ended October.

““In spite of its deceleration versus the increase observed in the quarter ended October, expansion by 2% in the employed population is the highest for a quarter ended January. Such increase also has an impact in the end of the year, since November and December were months with significant increases”, says the survey analyst, Adriana Beringuy. With the increase in the number of employed persons, employment-population ratio, which is the percentage of employed persons at working age, stayed at 48.7%.

Most of the increase in employment came from informal population. The number of workers without a formal contract in the private sector rose 3.6% from the previous quarter, which means an increase by 339 thousand persons. Self-employed workers without a CNPJ register increased by 4.8% in the same period, anda amounted to 826 thousand persons more. Domestic workers without a formal contract, after an increase by 5.2% from the previous quarter, totaled 3.6 million persons.

“Reduced increase in employment is mainly a result of the lower expansion of Industry, Trade and Construction. In terms of employment status, self-employed workers and workers in the private sector without an employment contract still contribute to the increase of employment in the country”, the researcher says. As a result, informality rate in the quarter ended January reached 39.7%.

Workers in the private sector with a private employment contract and employers were two categories that leveled off against the quarter ended October. However, in comparison with the same period a year ago, there is a trend to decrease. There are less 3.9 million workers with a formal contract in the private sector. The number of workers fell by 548 thousand persons.

There was a decrease by 1.1% in the population out of the workforce compared to the previous quarter. Persons who were neither employed nor unemployed in the week of reference amounted to 76.4 million persons in the quarter ended June. In a comparison with the same period a year ago, that figure increased by 16.2%.

Compared to the previous quarter, 720 thousand persons left the potential workforce, which includes persons at working age who were neither employed nor unemployed, but who have a potential to be in the workforce. That group was estimated at 11.3 million persons.

Among those are the discouraged ones, persons who did not search for work, but would like to find a position and were available to work. After a change by 2.3%, which means stability from the previous quarter, this group was estimated at 5.9 million persons, biggest number since the start of the survey time series, in 2012. From the same period a year ago, when Brazil had 4.7 million discouraged persons, there was an increase by 25.6%. A total 1.2 million persons more were facing that situation.

Employment increases in Domestic Services and Agriculture

Only three of the ten groups of acticity surveyed by Continuous PNAD recorded increase in employment in the quarter ended January. The number of persons employed in Domestic sercices grew 4.8%, an increase in labor market by 228 thousand persons. As for Agriculture, increase amounted to 2.7%, or 225 thousand persons. In the same period, about 313 mil thousand started to work in the segment of Information, Communication and Financial, Real Estate, Professional and Administrative Activities, whose participation increased by 3.1%. Figures for other groups remained unchanged.

“Agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishing and aquaculture was one of the activities least affected by the pandemic. That result may be associated to large scale mechanization of production. Also, it is an activity mainly developed out of the urban area, not subject to strict social distancing measures for pandemic control and without a big concentration of workers, differently from trade and services,” Ms. Beringuy explains.

Compared to the same period a year ago, the number of employed persons increased by 2 million in the segments of Trade (-11%), by 1.6 million in Lodging and Feeding (-28.1%), by 1.3 million in Industry (-10.3%), by 1.3 million in Domestic services (-20.8%), by 938 thousand in Other services (-18.4%), by 702 thousand in Transportation (-14.1%) and 693 thousand in Construction (-10.2%).

Wage bill levels off

Real wagebill leveled off from the previous quarter, at R$ 211.4 billion reais. In comparison with the same quarter a year ago, decrease of 6.9% represents a reduction by R$ 15.7 billion.

Average real earnings fell 2.9% from the quarter ended October 2020 and was estimated at R$ 2,521. Against the same period a year ago, it leveled off.

Continuous PNAD is the main instrument for monitoring workforce in the country. The sample to this quarterly survey in Brazil corresponds to 211 thousand housing units. About two thousand interviewers work in the survey in 26 states and in the Federal District, being connected to a data collection network of 564 IBGE branches.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, IBGE started data collection by telephone on March 17, 2020. It is possível to check the interviewee's identity at Replying to the IBGE or via Toll free (0800 721 8181). Data such as identity card or individual taxpayer number can be requested by the informant.