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Continuous PNAD

Unemployment drops to 13.2% in quarter ended August and affects 13.7 million persons

Section: Social Statistics | Alerrandre Barros

October 27, 2021 09h00 AM | Last Updated: October 27, 2021 09h21 PM

#PraCegover A foto mostra uma sequencia de mercadorias expostas na rua, sendo vendidas por ambulante.
Informal work increases, but remains below pre-pandemic level - Photo: Helena Pontes/IBGE News Agency

Unemployment rate fell to 13.2% in the quarter ended August, a decrease of 1.4 percentage points against the quarter ended May (14.6%). Despite such decrease, that figure corresponds to a total of 13.7 million persons looking for a job in the country. The data come from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey - Continuous PNAD, released today (27) by the IBGE. 

The number of employed persons (90.2 million) increased by 4.0%, or 3.4 million in the period. As a result, the employment-population ratio rose 2.0 percentage points, to 50.9%, which indicates that more than half of the population at working age is employed in Brazil. In a year, the number of employed persons increased by 8.5 million persons.

Employment was influenced by the increase in the number of workers with a formal contract in the private sector (31.0 million). Informal job market also grew, with an increased offer of self-employment without a CNPJ record and of work without a labor contract in the private sector. That even led informality rate to go from 40.0% in the quarter ended May to 41.1%, in the quarter ended August, amounting to 37.0 million persons.

Informal workers are those without a formal contract (either employed in the private sector or domestic workers), without a CNPJ number (either employers or self-employed) or unpaid workers.

“A significant part of the recovery of occupation was due to the advance of informality. In one year the total employed population increased by 8.5 million persons, with 6.0 million of informal workers,” says Adriana Beringuy, IBGE’s Labor and Income coordinator. “Although there has been a quite sharp increase in the period, the number of informal workers is still far from that in the pre-pandemic period and of the top recorded in the quarter ended October 2019, when there were 38.8 million informal workers,” she adds.

Employment increases, but average earnings drop

Despite the growth in the employed population in the quarter up to July, the average real earnings of workers fell by 4.3% against the quarter ended may and by 10.2% against the same quarter in 2020, standing at R$ 2,489. Those were the biggest percent decreases in the time series, in both comparisons. The real wage bill, which is the sum of all workers´ earnings, remained leveled off at R$219.2 billion.

“Reduced earnings evidence that, although there are more persons employed, the several forms of insertion in the labor market and in different activities, the employed population is being paid less. Employment increases, but income from work decreases,” Ms. Beringuy explains.

Self-employment and domestic work hit record figures

Self-employment remained on an upward trend and reached the record level of 25.4 million persons, an increase of 4.3%, with 1.1 million persons more. In relation to the same quarter a year ago, the amount increased 3.9 million, or 18.1%.

Domestic work increased by 79.9%, adding up to 5.5 million persons. Against the same period a year ago, it grew by 21.2% (965 thousand persons). The quarterly and annual expansions were the biggest ones in the entire employment time series for domestic workers.

The number of workers in the private sector without a labor contract (10.8 million) grew by 10.1% from the previous quarter. In one year, this figure increased to 23.3% or by 2.0 million persons, the biggest changes in the time series, in percent and absolute figures.

The category of employers (3.8 million) remained stable in both comparisons. Workers in the public sector (11.6 million) recorded a decrease of 3.1% against the previous quarter. In the annual comparison, it was leveled off.

Six of the ten economic activities recorded increase

The increase of employment in the quarter was observed in most groups of economic activities, with a highlight to 1.2 million workers in the segment of trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (7.8%) and to 578 thousand in overall industry (5.3%). The only decrease took place in public administration, social security, education, human health and social services (2.2%).

Against the same quarter last year, this growth was even more widespread. Among the 10 activities, nine advanced in terms of employment, with a highlight to trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (1.7 million), construction (1.3 million) and industry (991 thousand).

Underutilization drops, but underemployment hits new record

The number of underutilized workers, who are those unemployed, time-related underemployed or in the potential workforce, amounted to 31.1 million, a reduction of 5.5% in relation to the previous quarter. The compound underutilization rate decreased by 1.9 percentage points to 27.4%.

Time-related underemployed workers, those who work fewer hours than they could work, hit a record of 7.7 million persons, an increase of 4.7%, with 343 thousand workers more. That indicator rose 34.0% in relation to the same quarter last year, when there were 5.8 million underemployed workers in Brazil.

The number of discouraged workers (5.3 million), those who gave up looking for a job due to the structural conditions of the market, fell by 10.0% in the quarter ended August against the quarter ended May. Against the same period a year ago, this number recorded a decrease of 8.7%, when there were 5.9 million discouraged persons in Brazil.

More about Continuous PNAD

The Continuous PNAD is the main monitoring instrument of workforce in Brazil. The sample of the survey per quarter corresponds to 211 thousand households in Brazil. Nearly two thousand interviewers work in the survey in 26 states and in the Federal District, integrated into the data collection network of more than 500 IBGE branches. Tables with complete results are available at Sidra.

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