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Brazil Jobless Rate Hits Record 13.8%

A man wearing a face mask on his chin plays the saxophone in exchange of money in a street of Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil, on September 25, 2020. – The Brazilian city of Manaus, which was devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, may have suffered so many infections that its population now benefits from “herd immunity,” according to a preliminary study.  (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP)

Brazil’s unemployment rate hit a record 13.8 percent from May to July as Latin America’s biggest economy suffered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official figures released Wednesday.

The rate is the highest since the current tracking method was introduced in 2012, and two percentage points above same period last year.

The previous record — 13.7 percent — was registered in the first quarter of 2017.

The South American giant of 212 million people has been hit hard by the new coronavirus, with nearly 143,000 people killed, the second-highest death toll worldwide after the United States.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has attacked stay-at-home measures imposed by state and local authorities and insisted on getting the economy reopened.

But economists say the policy fight may only be adding to the economic damage. And health experts warn that many states are trying to exit lockdown too fast.

Brazil is facing a record recession this year. The central bank is currently predicting a contraction of 5.04 percent — though the outlook has been improving steadily since June.

There were 13.1 million people looking for work in July, IBGE said.

The number of people who dropped out of the work force — a sign of how many have given up looking for jobs because of a lack of opportunities — also hit a record, at 5.8 million, a 20-percent increase from the same period last year.

“Besides taking people’s jobs, the pandemic made it difficult to look for work because of stay-at-home measures, business closures and health issues,” said IBGE official Adriana Beringuy.

In all, Brazil lost 11.6 million jobs in a year, the institute said.


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