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Brazilian unemployment drops to a seven-year low

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With two days to go until Election Day, President Jair Bolsonaro received a piece of great news from Brazil’s latest unemployment reading — showing that the country’s joblessness rate dropped to 8.9 percent in the quarter ending in August, hitting the lowest unemployment rate in seven years.

Brazil’s employed population now stands at a record 99 million, with 9.7 million people still looking for work. The numbers represent a 30-percent decrease in the number of unemployed people from a year ago.

But there are plenty of sobering facts about the largely positive unemployment figures. Jobs are becoming more precarious: over 39 million workers are in informal or unregistered employment, which typically pay less and offer fewer labor protections, if at all.

Services, automotive retail, and public administration jobs were the main reasons for the drop in the unemployment rate. Together, they added over 1.2 million net jobs.

Average income for workers has grown for a second straight month and is now on par with levels from a year ago.

Adriana Beringuy, who oversees the survey at Brazil’s official statistics agency IBGE, credits the improvement in income to the expansion of formal employment — which has higher wages — and, more importantly, to the easing of inflation.

Yesterday, the Labor Ministry reported that the Brazilian economy added almost 279,000 jobs in August. While the results came above market expectations, they were 25 percent lower than the same month last year.

Still, analysts surveyed by the Central Bank Brazil predict growing by 1 percent, influenced by “the expected global slowdown and the cumulative impacts of domestic monetary policy.”

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