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Continuous PNAD

Unemployment drops to 11.2% in quarter ending in January, lowest rate for the period since 2016

Section: Social Statistics | Caio Belandi

March 18, 2022 09h00 AM | Last Updated: March 18, 2022 05h25 PM

Performance of trade influenced drop in unemployment in January - Photo: Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil

The unemployment rate drooped to 11.2% in the quarter ended in January, a retreat of 0.9 percentage points compared with the previous quarter, ended in October. This is the lowest rate for the period since 2016, when it registered 9.6%. The data are from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Continuous PNAD), released today (18) by the IBGE.

The unemployed population stayed at 12 million persons, a drop of 6.6% in the same comparison, which represents a reduction of 858 thousand persons. Compared with the same period in the previous year, the drop in the percentage of unemployed persons is of 18.3%, which represents less 2.7 million persons looking for a job.

The survey also shows that nearly 95.4 million persons were employed, a rise of 1.6%. The employment-population ratio - percentage of employed persons in the population at working age - was estimated at 55.3%, more 0.7 percentage points over the previous quarter.

According to Adriana Beringuy, IBGE´s coordinator of Labor and Income, the trade sector positively influenced the result. “The expansion of trade points out the maintenance of the growth trend of this activity, mainly from the second semester of 2021. In the current quarter, the employed population in Trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (18.4 million persons) already surpasses that registered in the pre-pandemic period (moving quarter of Dec-Jan-Feb 2020),” states her.


Except for the segments of transportation, mailing and storage and the sector of domestic services, the services activities also grew in the quarter, influencing the result of the survey.

The number of persons employed with a formal contract in the private sector (except domestic workers) was 34.6 million persons, a rise of 2% against the previous quarter, which represents more 681 thousand persons with labor rights.

According to Beringuy, January maintained the trend of resuming formal jobs as it happened in the last months. “The result of this index is relevant and repeats the expansion movement registered in the second semester last year,” states her, highlighting that the rise was of 4.1% in the quarter ended in October, while the July´s rate rose 3.1%. Among the activities, the growth of formal jobs in the current quarter in trade and industry stood out.

The growth is of 9.3% (or more 2.9 million persons employed with a formal contract) compared with 2021, influenced by trade, industry and by the sector of lodging and food.

Informality drops against the previous quarter, as well as average earnings

Concerning informality, January recorded 38.5 million informal workers (40.4% of the employed population), a rate below that of the previous quarter (40.7%) and above that of the same period last year (39.2%).

The usual real earnings fell once again: less 1.1% in relation to the last quarter and a steeper drop, of 9.7%, against the same quarter of 2021, standing at R$2,489, on average. No category rose their earnings. It dropped 4.1% in industry (or less R$102), even with more jobs with a formal contract. “Earnings shrinkage, which is usually associated to informal workers, was widespread along other forms of insertion and not only to informality,” explains Beringuy.

“Although employment is expanding and more persons are working, it does not cause the earnings of workers in general to increase,” concludes her. The sector of public administration, defense, social security, education, human health and social services also reduced: drop of 2.1% or less R$76.

Number of workers without a formal contract grows

The results of the November-December-January quarter also show a rise in the number of persons employed in the private sector without a formal contract. They were 12.4 million persons, an increase of 3.6% or 427 thousand persons in relation to the previous quarter. The rise is of 19.8% or more 1 million persons in the comparison with the same period a year ago.

The number of self-employed workers remained stable in the comparison with the previous quarter, but rose 10.3% in the year and hit 25.6 million persons, whereas the number of domestic workers was 5.6 million persons, remaining stable in the comparison between periods, but 19.9% higher than in the same period of the previous year.

The number of employers was 4 million persons and the number of those employed in the public sector, 11.4 million persons.

More about the survey

The Continuous PNAD is the main instrument to monitor workforce in Brazil. The survey sample 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 to the data collection network of more than 500 IBGE branches. See the data on Sidra.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IBGE implemented data collection by telephone on March 17, 2020. The id of the interviewers can be confirmed at 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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