The Brazilian unemployment rate dropped to 7.9 percent in the three months through to December. In all of 2022, the average rate sat at 9.3 percent — the lowest since 2015, when the economy fell into what was, until the pandemic downturn, the worst recession in Brazilian recorded history.
“The year 2021 was one of transition, as [Brazil’s unemployment rate] was coming out of its worst-ever moment, under the impact of the pandemic and Covid restrictions. Last year marked the consolidation of the recovery process,” said Adriana Beringuy, the labor and income coordinator at the national statistics agency IBGE. “In two years, unemployment in the job market dropped by 4.5 percentage points.”
The annual average unemployed population shrank by over 3.9 million last year to 10 million, also the lowest since 2015.
Still, the numbers show challenges remain. The employed population has shrunk slightly in the three months through December to almost 99.4 million. If the unemployment rate drops while fewer people are employed, it could mean that many Brazilians are abandoning the workforce (only jobless workers who are actively seeking work count as unemployed).
The downtick also comes as the economy shows clear signs of a slowdown. If Brazil’s economic activity stalls, companies could begin laying off workers. On the bright side, income has shown signs of improvement as formal employment picks up. Brazil’s informality rate, although still very high, has decreased from 40.1 to 39.6 percent in one year. Workers in formal jobs tend to have better wages — in addition to labor protections.