Brazil’s Economy Ministry announced on Monday it has suspended the disclosure of data on employment in the country. The General Register of Employed and Unemployed Persons (Caged) is a database with information on all workers under formal employment contracts. Companies are obligated to inform the government about all of their regular workers — including information such as gender, age, ethnicity, role, salary, and paid leave — under the penalty of being fined.
Caged figures used to be published every month, but the government recently changed this regularity to every two months. In March, the government was set to disclose data referring to January.
At the time, economists criticized the move as a reduction in transparency from the government. “We are in a moment when we need such indicators to understand the current economic situation. Caged is one of the best indicators — and was one of the first to be disclosed every month,” economist Daniel Duque, of think tank Fundação Getulio Vargas, told newspaper Valor.
The announcement leads to the interpretation that the Brazilian government is actively working to hide unemployment data — as companies begin to lay off workers amid grim expectations for the economy. Some brokerage firms have predicted that up to 40 million Brazilian workers could find themselves out of a job due to the coronavirus crisis.
On Thursday, new U.S. labor market data revealed a massive increase in initial jobless claims for the week ended on March 21. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the number of Americans newly applying for unemployment benefits jumped to 3.2 million. Previous peaks happened in 1982 and 2009 — reaching 695,000 and 665,000 people, respectively.