Brazil and Mexico face similar job market woes

. Jul 06, 2020
Brazil and Mexico face similar job market woes Unemployed man in Puebla, Mexico. Photo: Alejandro Munoz/Shutterstock

In Brazil and Mexico — Latin America’s largest economies — over half of those of legal working age are out of the workforce. Of this mass, 75.3 million Brazilians, one-quarter have halted job searches altogether, either due to the pandemic or the lack of opportunities in their region.

While nearly all populational strata see trends toward giving up job searches, data suggests it has become more prevalent among Brazilians of color. According to the country’s most recent national household survey,

black and multiracial Brazilians make up 55 percent of the population of working age, and 57 percent of the workforce. However, they also comprise 67 percent of discouraged unemployed, who have simply given up their search for work.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3093793" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <p>As we explained in our <a href="">July 6 Weekly Report</a>, college-educated workers saw an average drop of 15 percent of their usual earnings, while those without a high-school diploma lost as much as 25 percent of their income.</p> <p>&#8220;The pandemic has thrown Brazil into uncharted territory, with extremely rapid changes of scenario,&#8221; said Cimar Azeredo, polling director at the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). &#8220;The household survey is a study that takes the pulse of the economy, where what happens in April is different from May or June,&#8221; he told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong>.</p> <p>The latest data shows that Brazil&#8217;s 10.1 million job-seeking unemployed are just over half the total of discouraged workers. &#8220;Unemployment data is a delayed estimate. In times of crisis, that number is not representative of reality, especially in the context of a deadly pandemic. That is why we must look at the underutilization of the workforce for a clearer picture,&#8221; Mr. Azeredo explains.</p> <p>Using those standards, we can see 28 million workers who are being &#8220;<a href="">underutilized</a>.&#8221;</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-scatter" data-src="visualisation/3091097" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <h2>Mexico&#8217;s job shortage, explained</h2> <p>Mexico has 95.8 million people of working age: 50.3 million are out of the workforce, while just 1.9 million are classed as unemployed.</p> <p>May data from ETOE (Encuesta Telefónica de Ocupación y Empleo), a phone survey of occupation and employment, is quite revealing. Mexicans who were able to work but discouraged due to a perceived lack of opportunities outnumbered the job-seeking unemployed tenfold. There are 18.9 million discouraged workers in Mexico, including those who lost their jobs due to the shutdown of non-essential activities.</p> <p>Just like in Brazil, the data shows that the crisis has not hit all social groups equally. Mexican women account for 57 percent of people available for work —&nbsp;but not actively looking for a job. They make up 53 percent of the population of legal working age, but account for two-thirds of the non-economically active population.</p> <p>The trends are very similar in Brazil. Accounting for just over half of the population of legal working age, women make up 62 percent of people who cannot or have not looked for a paying position.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3093834" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <h2>How to look at the data</h2> <p>Both surveys in Brazil and Mexico were developed by official statistics agencies in order to measure the impact of the pandemic in the labor market. In both cases, these surveys are not comparable to previous studies as they have different methodologies and a different data collection time span.

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Aline Gatto Boueri

Aline Gatto Boueri is a data journalist. She has had her work published by Gênero e Número, Universa UOL, Marie Claire, Projeto Colabora, among others.

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