Informal jobs in Brazil reach new high

These posts amount to 41.4 percent of the country’s employed workforce

Published in 01/11/2019 - 14:21 By Akemi Nitahara - Rio de Janeiro

The number of people in Brazil who found an informal job in the quarter ending in September reached a new record in this time series, initiated in 2012: 41.4 percent of the country’s employed workforce.

The figures can be found in the study dubbed Continuous PNAD (National Household Sample Survey), published on October 31 by the government’s statistics agency IBGE.

A slight increase was reported in the number of employed individuals in the country: 93.8 million in the quarter ending in September—up 0.5 percent from the quarter ending in June this year (459 thousand) and up 1.5 percent year-on-year.


The unemployment rate slipped from 12 to 11.8 percent comparing the quarter ending in June and the one ending in September, adding up to 12.5 million people. In the third quarter of 2018, the rate was 11.9 percent. Research Manager Adriana Beringuy mentioned that these are people entering the market as autonomous and unregistered workers in the private enterprise.

“We’d like to point out we’re looking at a quantitative improvement in the labor market. To be sure, more people are working, but the way they’re being included is through informal employment, with all repercussions it brings along with it,” she argued.


The number of workers in the private sector with no formal registration reached 11.8 million in the quarter ending in September, up 2.9 percent from the previous quarter and 3.4 percent compared to the third quarter of 2018.

Autonomous workers also showed a record for this time series—24.4 million, up 1.2 percent against the previous quarter and 4.3 percent against the same span last year. Of this total, 4.9 million are registered as firms; 19.5 million are not.

The growth in employment has been taking place since 2018, Beringuy noted, but not in sectors known for hiring a massive number of people—like industry, construction, and trade. Rather, it is referred to as a local response in some segments.

“The outlook is no different from other disclosures we’ve had. Some sectors stood out for the number of workers absorbed, such as construction, buildings, and basic services. These are not major infrastructure projects. We’ve also seen the continued increase in the amount of workers in land passenger transport, and some response in the outsourced workforce,” he said.


IBGE’s research manager said the Brazilian labor market is becoming stable and has displayed a seasonal behavior every year since 2017, despite showing levels considerably above the historic average of unemployment in the country, observed late in 2013, when the rate was 6.2 percent—a total of 6.5 million jobless people.

“Since 2017, the labor market has shown its most characteristic seasonality, which is the growth in unemployment in the first quarter, after which the unemployment phase starts subsiding and the population gradually returns to the labor market. That’s interesting because in 2016 and 2015 this seasonality wasn’t there at all; all you had were a group of unemployed people growing at any time of year.”

Beringuy reiterated the labor market is seen to be recovering, although without the “impetus” necessary to return to levels reported in 2014 and earlier.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Fernando Fraga / Augusto Queiroz

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