Coronavirus drives Brazil jobless rate to record 14.4 percent
Published: 12:01 PM, 31 October 2020
The jobless rate in Brazil hit a record 14.4 percent in the June to August period as the coronavirus pandemic pounded Latin America’s largest economy, the government reported Friday.
News Agency AFP reported that this is the highest level of unemployment recorded in Brazil since the government started measuring joblessness by three-month periods in 2012.
For the May to July stretch it had reached 13.8 percent, which was also a record, the Brazilian statistics institute said. From June to August a record of nearly six million people simply gave up trying to find a job, it added.
Brazil’s economy lost 4.3 million jobs for the three-month period, bringing the total number of unemployed to 13.8 million people, the government said.
But that was an improvement from the 7.3 million jobs lost from May to July, fueling hope that the recovery is gaining steam.
“We are now seeing greater movement in the labour market,” said Adriana Beringuy, an analyst for the statistics institute.
However, some other numbers remain grim.
On Wednesday the Brazilian real hit a five-month low of 5.75 to the dollar, and the Sao Paulo stock market slid nearly five percent over fears for the impact Europe’s second wave of infections will have on the global economy.
Brazil, Latin America’s biggest country, with 212 million people, entered a recession in the second quarter of the year with a record economic contraction of 9.7 percent.
Lately, forecasts for the year have been improving somewhat.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which in June was predicting Brazil’s economy would shrink a devastating 9.1 percent in 2020, this month revised its estimate to -5.8 percent.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a crushing human toll in Brazil, killing more than 158,000 people. That is the second-highest death toll worldwide, after the United States.
The health crisis has also triggered a political fight in Brazil between state governors who support lockdown measures to save lives and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, an ally of Donald Trump.
Like the US president, Bolsonaro regularly downplays the risk of the virus and favours keeping the economy open.
Brazil was undergoing a gradual reopening during the June-August period, after going into lockdowns that were unevenly implemented depending on the city or state.
Bolsonaro faces criticism for his response to the pandemic. Opponents say his resistance to lockdown measures has further weakened the economy, not protected it.