Brazil unemployment rate hits record high 14.6%, as people return to look for work

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The number of registered Brazilians out of work and the national unemployment rate rose to the highest on record, official figures showed on Friday, as the easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures encouraged people to look for work again.

FILE PHOTO: A woman looks at job listings posted on a light pole in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli/File Photo

The unemployment rate in the three months through September rose to 14.6% from 14.4% in the three months to August, while the number of official unemployed rose to 14.1 million from 13.8 million, statistics agency IBGE said.

Although the unemployment rate was lower than the 14.9% economists had expected, it is the highest since IBGE’s series began in 2012. At the end of last year it was 11.0%.

(Graphic: Brazil unemployment rate )

“In April and May, social distancing measures influenced people’s decision not to look for work. With the relaxation of these measures, we have started to see more of these people looking for a job,” IBGE research manager Adriana Beringuy said.

The number of Brazilians out of the workforce completely and the underemployment rate remained near record highs, while the number of people with jobs and the share of the working population in work remained near record lows, IBGE said.

The workforce of 96.5 million people was 1 million higher than the three months through August, but still 9.8 million or 9.2% smaller than the same period last year, IBGE said.

The number of people in work was 82.5 million, down 12.1%, or 11.3 million people, from the same period last year.

Only 47.1% of working-age people were working in the three months to September, IBGE said, down 7.7 percentage points from the same period last year.

Some 78.6 million people were out of the workforce completely, down slightly from the three months to August but up 21.2%, or 13.7 million people, from the same period last year, IBGE said.

The number of Brazilians officially out of work rose to 14.1 million, and the number of underemployed was 33.2 million, IBGE said. The underemployment rate was 30.3%.

Figures on Thursday showed that a record net 395,000 formal jobs were created in October. The dominant services sector, which had been hardest hit by social distancing measures, led the charge with a net 157,000 new jobs.

Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama