Seven years after protests, Brazilians are earning less and less

. Feb 26, 2020
protests 2013 brazil revenue In 2013, Brazilians protested for better public services and living conditions. Things have only gotten worse. Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

In 2013, millions of Brazilians took to the streets in mass protests, displaying their general frustration and dissatisfaction with living conditions around the country. What began as a struggle against public transport fare hikes in São Paulo soon escalated in response to police violence, and cities all over the country saw demonstrations of impressive size that constituted one big middle finger to the status quo. However, seven years on, data from Brazil’s official statistics bureau IBGE shows that not much has improved. In fact, average incomes since the 2013 protests have largely stayed the same or fallen.

</p> <p>While the graph below shows that nominal wages have increased in this seven-year period—going up an average of 56 percent—the gains are wiped away when adjusted for inflation, or compared to the fluctuation in U.S. Dollar exchange rates.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1438663"><script src=""></script></div> <p>The graph below paints a different picture, showing the progression of the so-called &#8220;real income,&#8221; adjusted by inflation over the years. Between 2013 and 2019, we see employees enjoying salary gains of just 1 percent over the period, while employers and self-employed workers—the latter already made less money than the formally employed—experienced income losses of 3 percent and 5 percent, respectively.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1438637"><script src=""></script></div> <h2>Purchasing power</h2> <p>Furthermore, when we convert nominal wages into <a href="">USD</a>, using the exchange rates of the last day of each quarter since 2012, we see an even more dramatic loss in purchasing power. Employees&#8217; income was worth 26 percent less at the end of 2019 in comparison to 2012, employers lost 29 percent, and the self-employed workers once again felt the biggest pinch, having their incomes valued 31 percent less when converted into USD.</p> <p>Since the 2013 protests, which is the comparison point we used at the beginning of the article, losses converted into USD are of 16, 20, and 22 percent, respectively.&nbsp;</p> <p>Converting these incomes into U.S. Dollars is a useful comparison as it helps to <a href="">illustrate the mood swings</a> among Brazilian consumers, who are used to purchasing goods and services which depend on foreign exchange rates, such as electronic devices, cars, or drinks.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1438624"><script src=""></script></div> <h2>Climbing down the social ladder</h2> <p>This data corroborates <a href="">a story published</a> on <strong>The Brazilian Report </strong>in October of last year, which showed that even though nominal incomes have increased, millions of households dropped down the social ladder between 2014 and 2018, the period that involves Brazil&#8217;s toughest economic recession on record.</p> <p>While the very rich saw their purchasing power increase greatly at the tail end of the recession and afterward, the income of middle and working classes—classes B through D on Brazil&#8217;s socioeconomic scale—stagnated or, in the case of the poorest strata, fell sharply.

Marcelo Soares

Marcelo Soares is a Brazilian journalist specializing in data journalism and reader engagement.

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