Continuous PNAD

Unemployment stands steady at 14.4% in quarter ended in February

Section: Social Statistics | Carmen Nery

April 30, 2021 09h00 AM | Last Updated: May 03, 2021 06h12 PM


Unemployed population adds up to 14.4 million in the quarter ended in February - Photo: Marinho Ramos/Semcom - Manaus

The unemployed population in Brazil was estimated at 14.4 million in the quarter ended in February, the largest amount since 2012 - starting point of the time series of the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), released today (April 30) by the IBGE. The result represents an increase of 2.9%, or 400 thousand more unemployed people compared to the previous quarter (September to November 2020), when the unemployment was estimated at 14.0 million people. Even so, the unemployment rate was stable at 14.4% in relation to the previous quarter (14.1%), but increased by 2.7 percentage points in comparison with the same quarter last year, which was estimated at 11, 6%.

“Although there is stability in the employment rate, a greater pressure can be already noticed by 14.4 million people looking for work. There was not enough job creation this quarter, which was the case also in the stability of all economic activities, many of them still keeping its labor force, but others - such as trade, industry, lodging and food - indicating layoffs. The quarter tends back to informality, reinforcing the trend already pointed out by previous disseminations: the importance of self-employed workers in the employment rate leveling off”, says survey analyst Ms. Adriana Beringuy.

In one year, the pandemic took away 7.8 million jobs

The analyst highlights that almost all indicators remained stable compared to the previous quarter, but in comparison with the same quarter of the previous year, there was a reduction in most of them, either in the position in the labor market or in groups of activities, reflecting the pandemic effects.

The stability of the amount of employed persons - approximately 85.9 million in the quarter ended in February 2021 - is due to informality, with the growth of self-employed workers. In relation to the same quarter of the previous year, the number of employed persons decreased by 8.3%, representing a reduction of 7.8 million employed persons.

The employment-population ratio, which is the percentage of employed persons in the working-age population, was 48.6% in the quarter from December 2020 to February 2021, showing stability compared to the quarter from September to November 2020. In relation to the same quarter of the previous year, when theemployment rate in Brazil was 54.5%, this indicator presented a negative change (-5.9 pp).

Only the category of self-employed workers, which totals 23.7 million people, showed growth (3.1%) in comparison with the previous quarter (September to November 2020), meaning an addition of 716 thousand people in this group. In relation to the same period of the previous year, the indicator showed a reduction of 824 thousand jobs.

The other categories showed stability in relation to the previous quarter. Private sector workers with a formal contract were estimated at 29.7 million people. Employers and workers in the private sector without a formal contract total 9.8 million people. And employers are 3.9 million people.

In comparison with the same quarter of the previous year, however, there was a drop of 11.7%, or 3.9 million fewer jobs for employees in the private sector with a formal contract; 1.8 million less people in employers and private sector workers without a formal contract and 552 thousand less employers.

The quarter ended in February 2020 was still a pre-pandemic one and any comparison with this period will show very sharp annual declines. This explains the stability in the quarter and the increase in the annual comparison ”, explains Ms. Beringuy.

In comparison with the previous mobile quarter, another 721 thousand people (0.7%) entered the workforce - employed and unemployed people - estimated at 100.3 million. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, there was a reduction of 5.7 million people. “This expansion of the workforce came mainly from the growth in unemployment. Despite the increase of 721 thousand, the indicator is practically stable, so much so that the change is only 0.7% ”, highlights the analyst.

The population outside the labor force - which was neither employed nor unemployed in the reference week - remained stable at 76.4 million, when compared to the quarter from September to November 2020. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year , there was an expansion of 15.9% with the addition of 10.5 million people.

Ms. Beringuy explains that this is an indicator that grew a lot in 2020, due to dismissals, retracting again from October and now stable.

“The population outside the labor force was affected by restrictions on economic activities and by protective measures. Many stopped looking for work, others lost their jobs and were unable to have them back, which put the labor market under less pressure. Against February 2020, the population outside the labor force is much larger due to the dynamics that the pandemic brought to the labor market ”, observes the analyst.

Employment was kept stable in all activity groups

All ten groups of activities surveyed by the Continuous PNAD  showed stability in the employment rate in relation to the previous moving quarter (September to November).

In comparison with the same quarter of the previous year, there was a reduction in seven of the ten groups: General Industry (10.8%, or 1.3 million less people), Construction (9.2%, or 612 thousand less people), Trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (11.1%, or 2.0 million less people), Transportation, storage and mail (12.2%, or 607 thousand less people), Lodging and food (27.4%, or 1.5 million less people), Other services (18.1%, or 917 thousand less people) and Domestic services (20.6%, or 1.3 million less people).

Average earnings down 2.5%

The usual real wage bill was stable in comparison with the previous quarter, being estimated at R$ 211.2 billion reais. In comparison with the same quarter of the previous year, the decrease of 7.4% represents a reduction of R$ 16.8 billion in the wage bill.

The average usual earning fell 2.5% in the quarter from December 2020 to February 2021 compared to the quarter ended in November 2020 and was estimated at R$ 2,520. In comparison with the same period of the previous year, there was stability.

The Continuous PNAD is the main monitoring tool of the workforce in the country. The survey's sample on a quarterly basis in Brazil corresponds to 211 thousand households surveyed. About two thousand interviewers work in the survey, in 26 states and in the Federal District, integrated into the collection network of more than 500 IBGE agencies.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IBGE implemented the collection by telephone on March 17, 2020. It is possible to confirm the identity of the interviewer on the "Respondendo ao IBGE" website or through the toll-free number 0800 721 8181, to check the registration, ID or social security number of the interviewer. Respondents are entitled to request such information.