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Brazil’s unemployment rate falls 28.75% in 7 years

January 30th, 2010

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell 28.7 percent during President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s seven-year administration, according to a study released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) Thursday.

The unemployment rate averaged 8.1 percent last year, up from 7.9 percent in 2008. The increase is attributed to the impact of the international financial crisis on the country’s economy, which lowered job growth in the first half of the year.

Despite the crisis, the unemployment rate in 2009 was lower than the ones registered from 2003 to 2007.

During Lula’s seven-year administration, employment increased 14 percent in the six metropolitan areas included in the IBGE’s monthly unemployment report. The number of women employed in these places also increased during this period, jumping from 43 percent to 45.1 percent of the workforce.

The study also shows that Brazilian workers have now more years of schooling than seven years ago. In 2009, Brazilians with high-school or above education (11 years of education) accounted for 57.5 percent of the workforce, up from 46.7 percent in 2003.

The number of workers covered in the social security system also increased, reaching 66.8 percent in 2009, from 61.2 percent in 2003. Formally employed Brazilians accounted for 54.2 percent of the workforce, from 49 percent in 2003.

The number of Brazilians employed in the extraction industry rose 7.3 percent from 2003 to 2009, while the number of workers in the construction sector rose 11.3 percent. The number of workers in the trade sector increased 8.6 percent, and that in the education, health and public administration sectors increased 16.4 percent.

Salary indicators went up 14.3 percent in seven years, reaching 1,350 reais (729 U.S. dollars). Household per capita income averaged 878 reais (474 dollars) in 2009, up 23.3 percent from 2003.

College-educated workers saw their salaries increased even more during this period, reaching 3,392 reais (1,833 dollars) in 2009, up 36.5 percent from 2003.

However, salary inequalities still persist: according to the study, Brazilian women earn only 70 percent of the salaries of men.

In addition, Brazilian black or mixed-race workers earn an average of 51.4 percent of the salaries of white workers. However, this gap has narrowed: from 2003 to 2009, the salaries of white workers rose 15.3 percent, while the salaries of black and mixed-race workers increased 22.3 percent.

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