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Continuous PNAD

Employment reduces to 12.6% in Q3 and reaches 13.5 million

Section: Social Statistics | Umberlândia Cabral e Caio Belandi

November 30, 2021 09h00 AM | Last Updated: December 02, 2021 05h32 PM

  • At a glance

  • With a decrease of 1.6 percentage points, the unemployment rate was 12.6% in the third quarter of this year.
  • The number of unemployed persons dropped to 13.5 million (-9.3%).
  • The number of employed persons reached 93.0 million, a growth of 4.0%.
  • The unemployment rate in the Southeast moved from 14.6%, in the second quarter, to 13.1%. In the Northeast, it went from 18.3% to 16.4%.
  • The highest unemployment rate in the country was registered in Pernambuco (19.3%).
  • The 16 highest rates of informality were in states in the North or Northeast. Pará registered the highest informality rate (62.2%).
Informal work drove growth in employment - Photo: Helena Pontes/IIBGE News Agency

The unemployment rate dropped to 12.6% in the third quarter of this year, a reduction of 1.6 percentage points compared to the second quarter. As a result, the number of people looking for a job in the country dropped to 13.5 million (-9.3%). The employed ones reached 93.0 million, with growth of 4.0%. The data are from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Continuous PNAD), released today (November, 30) by the IBGE.

“In the third quarter, a significant growth of employment took place, thus allowing a reduction in the unemployed population, who looks for a job, as well as in the population out of the workforce,” states Adriana Beringuy, IBGE´s coordinator of Labor and Income. The population out of the workforce is the contingent of those who are neither employed nor looking for a job.

 With the increase in the number of employed persons, the employment-population ratio, percentage of persons at working age who are in the labor market, hit 54.1%. This percentage had been 52.1% last quarter.

Domestic work registers the highest rise in the time series, though still below the pre-pandemic level

Beringuy highlights that informality accounts for 54% of the increase in employment. Among the job categories that mostly increased over the previous quarter are those employed in the private sector without a formal contract (10.2%), which added up to 11.7 million persons. In the same period, the number of domestic workers reached 5.4 million, an increase of 9.2%, the highest one since the beginning of the time series of the survey in 2012. Considering only the workers without a formal contract, they increased 10.8%, which represents more 396 thousand persons.

“It is a recovery process that has already been happening since June. The category of domestic workers was the most affected in employment last year and recorded an important expansion in the last months. Despite the recovery in the latest quarters of the survey, the current contingent of these workers is smaller than in the pre-pandemic period,” states her. 6.0 million persons were domestic workers in the first quarter last year.

The contingent of self-employed workers also rose (3.3%). They are 25.5 million persons in this category, the highest number since the beginning of the time series of the survey. This contingent includes workers without CNPJ, who grew 1.9% over the last quarter. As a result, the informality rate hit 40.6% of the population. They are 38 million workers in this situation.

The increase in employment is mainly related to the activities of trade (7.5%), with more 1.2 million workers, industry (6.3% or 721 thousand persons), construction (7.3% or 486 thousand persons) and domestic services (8.9% with more 444 thousand persons).

Despite the advance in the number of employed persons, the usual real earnings was R$2,459, a drop of 4.0% over the last quarter and of 11.1% in relation to the third quarter last year. The wage bill (R$223.5 billion) remained stable in both comparisons. According to Beringuy, these figures point out that the increase in employment was leveraged by job positions with lower salaries. “Jobs with lower earnings increase and purchasing power is lost due to the advance of the inflation,” stated her.

Drop in unemployment hits all the regions

The drop in the unemployment rate in Brazil (-1.6 p.p.) was spread along all the regions. In the Southeast, region that maintains the highest number of unemployed persons (6.3 million), the rate changed from 14.6% in the second quarter to 13.1%. In the Northeast, the indicator dropped from 18.3% to 16.4%. Despite the retreat, that region still maintains the highest unemployment rate in Brazil.

“The drop in the unemployment at national level is also being noticed in several states. It points out a recovery of jobs widespread in Brazil,” highlights Beringuy.

Although Bahia has the second highest unemployment rate in Brazil (18.7%), only after Pernambuco (19.3%), it remained stable in this indicator and in the number of persons looking for a job in the labor market (1.3 million). The number of employed persons in that state grew 6.5%, mainly leveraged by the increase in domestic workers (18.3%) and self-employed workers (12.3%). After Pernambuco and Bahia, the highest unemployment rates were registered in Amapá (17.5%), Alagoas (17.1%) and Sergipe (17.0%).


Having advanced 4.0% in the third quarter, the employed population in the country amounted to 93 million persons and was formed by 66.4% of employees, 4.1% of employers, 2.1% of auxiliary family workers and 27.4% of self-employed workers. That last percentage was higher in the North (34.5%) and Northeast (31.1%). Of the 17 states that recorded higher informality rates than the national one, 16 are in the North and Northeast. The highest one was in Pará (62.2%).

“In general, those regions have a high percentage of these types of job. Informality is bigger in those two regions. And this worker profile is contributing to recover the local jobs. An important part of the jobs in those two regions is attributed to informal workers, which have a relevant contingent among the self-employed workers,” explains the IBGE´s coordinator of Labor and Income.

Employment-population ratio is lower among black and brown persons than among white persons 

The unemployment rate of those who self declared white persons (10.3%) stood below the national average, whereas that of blacks (15.8%) and browns (14.2%) stood above it. All of them dropped against the last quarter. Brown persons represented 46.8% of the population out of the workforce, followed by white (43.1%) and black (8.9%) persons. Compared with the second quarter, the share of brown persons decreased and that of white and black persons, increased.


The employment-population ratio also increased for white, black and brown persons. Compared with the third quarter last year, white persons changed from 51.4% to 55.8%, brown persons, from 46.7% to 52.1% and black persons, from 49.0% to 55.6%.

Exceptionality in data collection during the pandemic causes changes in the time series

The Continuous PNAD released today by the IBGE starts a new time series, re-weighted due to the change in the way data were collected during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the implementation of social distancing measures in March 2020, data began to be collected remotely through telephone. “The new re-weighting aims at mitigating possible biases of availability in population groups, stepped up by the drop in the utilization rate of the interviews,” explains Adriana Beringuy.

The technical notes that detail the changes were published on November 19 and they can be accessed here.

Technical note 04/2021 informs the methodological and operational aspects of the new adjustment method of the survey, while Technical note 05/2021 approaches the use of the first visit in 2012-2019 and of the fifth visit in 2020 in the calculation of Earnings from all sources. Lastly, Technical note 06/2021 informs about the monthly and quarterly indicators released and the way they are made available.

More about the survey

The Continuous PNAD is the major instrument to follow up the workforce in Brazil. The sample of the survey per quarter corresponds to 211 thousand households surveyed in Brazil. Nearly two thousand interviewers work in the survey in 26 states and in the Federal District, integrated in the data collection network of more than 500 IBGE agencies.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IBGE implemented the data collection through telephone since March 17, 2020. The id of the interviewers can be confirmed on the Answering the IBGE website or through the Call Center (0800 7218181) by checking their ID numbers, which can be requested by the informants.

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