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The impact of the pandemic on the Brazilian labor market

Publicado em 09 dezembro 2020

The pandemic has disrupted economic activity and worsened social problems in many countries. In Brazil, its impact has been especially severe. "The level of employment, defined as the number of people in work divided by the working-age population, fell below 50% in April 2020. It remained low until July when it bottomed out at 47%. This means over half the working-age population was unemployed," said Rogério Barbosa, a professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro's Institute for Social and Political Studies (IESP-UERJ) and a former researcher at the Center for Metropolitan Studies (CEM), one of FAPESP's Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs).

An article entitled "The Impact of COVID-19 in Brazil: Labour Market and Social Protection Responses," by Barbosa and Ian Prates, a researcher at the Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP), a São Paulo-based think tank, is published in The Indian Journal of Labour Economics. The study was supported by FAPESP via a postdoctoral scholarship awarded to Barbosa.

"We used data for June 2020 in the study. But since then we've published other studies with more up-to-date statistics based on the National Household Sample Survey [PNAD, an official Brazilian government survey conducted by IBGE, the national census bureau]—both the Continuous PNAD and the COVID-19 PNAD. This dataset confirmed the forecast we made at the start of the pandemic," Barbosa said.

"Back then, we cross-tabulated two parameters: formal or informal employment, including self-employment, and employment in essential or non-essential sectors. Based on this, we predicted that black people and women would be the most affected: blacks because they mostly work in the informal sector, and women because so many work in sectors considered non-essential. In both cases, this status derives from the historical formation of Brazil. The PNAD data confirmed this prediction. For every formal worker terminated, three informal workers lost their jobs. The non-essential sectors involving service provision by individuals were the worst affected."

According to Barbosa, the level of employment in Brazil has always…


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