Note from BW of Brazil: Over the past decade, there has been much chatter about the rise of Brazil’s black middle class. According to these reports, Afro-Brazilians, who have been historically excluded from Brazil’s middle-class and have encountered difficulty in entering this economic class, represented about 80% of the newest members of the middle class. This newly acquired status also resulted in a boom in Afro-Brazilian buying power. All good news, right? Well not exactly. Black working women have fought long and hard to recently win basic working rights and they still represent the majority of women who work without an official, signed working card, which is similar to what Americans call “working under the table.” On top of all this, with the boom of the Brazilian economy in recent years and the current cooling off period, it is blacks and women who are suffering the longest periods of unemployment. So, while there has been some great news about Brazil in the past decade, as Haitians immigrants have been finding out, things are not always as rosy as they appear. Check the report below.
The good performance of the Brazilian labor market in recent years has exposed a serious problem: the existence of a group of people who hardly manage to fill a vacancy, even when unemployment rates are the lowest in history, at levels close to 6% (calculations by the IBGE – Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), as has occurred in Brazil in the last two years. According to experts, for this group, if a job is difficult to find when the situation is favorable in the labor market, the situation becomes even more critical when the loss of strength in the economy begins to reflect in the generation of vacancies, as is happening now.
A study conducted by Dieese at the request of Globo (news), shows that women and blacks, who now represent the majority of all the unemployed are even more numerous among those seeking a job for over a year. Among workers seeking employment for less than one year, 53.9% are women and 53.3% were black. These percentages rise to 63.2% and 60.6% respectively among those who have been unemployed for over a year.
“Unemployment has fallen in recent years. But it’s like a swimming pool with a stream of input and output. Some people always remain in the rear and the longer a person is unemployed, the longer the person tends to remain unemployed,” says economist Lúcia Garcia, coordinator of Pesquisas de Emprego e Desemprego (Research on Employment and Unemployment) of Dieese.
The lower the general unemployment rate, the more numerous are blacks and women among the long-term unemployed. According to Diesse in 1999, when the unemployment rate by the institution was close to 20%, blacks and women were about half of workers unemployed for over a year. In 2012, when the unemployment rate was 10.5%, in Dieese’s account, they exceeded 60% of long-term unemployed.
The IBGE, which calculates the official unemployment rate in the country from six metropolitan areas, estimates that there are 205,155 people in this situation, or 14% of job seekers in June.
“High unemployment affects all levels underneath. When the unemployment rate falls, it reaches the most vulnerable social groups more persistently,” says Lúcia.
According to the Dieese study, when considering education, workers with a high school education or an incomplete college education are the largest share: 46.2% of those who are unemployed for a long time. In Lúcia’s evaluation, the increase in average education of the Brazilian explains the largest portion of long-term unemployed with secondary education or incomplete higher education. In recent years, young people could spend more time studying before seeking employment, but that higher education is not always a guaranteed entry into the labor market.
Leila Soares, 27, from the southeastern state of Minas Gerais says with a high school diploma she has seen the doors of employment close due to a lack of experience. Taking courses for administrative assistant she has seen how difficult it is to reconcile work and study. In a recent job, as a vendor, she ended up getting fired:
“I wanted to go to school too and they said it wouldn’t work out,” she says.
Leila came to Rio eight years ago in search of better conditions of employment and so far has not been successful:
“It gives me the impression that I’m never good (enough), that I’m not meeting the requirements.”
“These people are at God’s will”
Claudio Dedecca, Unicamp (university in Campinas, São Paulo) professor, says that when the economy starts to grow and unemployment falls rapidly, as occurred in Brazil, companies admit first people best positioned in the market and then those with professional discrepancy:
“A low unemployment rate becomes a heavy load for employees with unfavorable qualifications. These leftover unemployed people are at God’s will, because the country has no public policy to re-enter the market.”
For the coordinator of Estudos e Pesquisa em Trabalho e Renda do Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (Studies and Research on Work and Income) of the Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (Institute for Applied Economic Research or IPEA), Gabriel Ulyssea, the higher education of the workforce and the policy of increasing the minimum wage increased employer demands:
“They seek greater employee productivity and choose the most qualified.”
Since leaving Piscinão de Ramos in February 2012, where she sold sacolé with her daughter, Ileane Ambrose da Silva, 42, gets up early in search of employment. She leaves home at 4:30 am to go to professional service centers and says that employers are more demanding for people like her who only managed to study for six months and only knows how sign their name.
“I never had a formal carteira de trabalho (work card), but now it seems to have gotten worse, I can’t find anything. They want high school, but for what if I’m packing things or cleaning the floor? If I had a high school (education), I would be in an office,” she complains.
Note from BW of Brazil: Although black Brazilians have generally fared well over the past decade, the news of unemployment affecting blacks more than others is not new as a report from November (below) pointed out.
In spite of being the majority of the economically active population, blacks suffer the most from unemployment
courtesy of Agência Brasil
(November 20, 2012)
Although the majority of the população economicamente ativa (economically active population or PEA), blacks are the most affected by unemployment. The data are from the Pesquisa de Emprego e Desemprego (PED or Survey of Employment and Unemployment), for 2011, made by the Departamento Intersindical de Estatística e Estudos Socioeconômicos (Dieese or Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies) in partnership with the Fundação Sistema Estadual de Análise de Dados (State System of Data Analysis or SEADE) and the Ministério do Trabalho (Ministry of Labor or MTE). The survey, released on November 19 (2012), takes into account the metropolitan areas of Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre, Recife, Salvador, São Paulo and the Federal District (1).
In the areas surveyed, there was a higher share of the black population in the labor force, compared to the non-black portion. According to the research, with the exception of Fortaleza and Porto Alegre, where participation rates of blacks and non-blacks were similar in 2011, in the other regions, the insertions into the labor market for blacks were always higher.
In Belo Horizonte, 57.3% of the black population participates in the PEA, compared to 56.7% of the non-black population, in the Federal District, the percentage is 63.7% (black) and 62.7% (non-black), in Fortaleza, black (58.1%) and non-black (58.4%), Porto Alegre, black (57%) and non-black (57.1%), in Recife, 54.7% (black) and 54.3 % (non-black), in Salvador, black (56.5%) and non-black (56.4%) and São Paulo, 63.7% (black) and 62.9% (non-black).
“Despite the intensity of the presence of blacks in the metropolitan labor market, this segment of the population still experiences higher levels of unemployment. In the last year, the proportion of blacks in the number of unemployed in most regions was higher than 60%, except in the metropolitan areas of Porto Alegre (18.2%) and São Paulo (40.0%),” reveals the research.
When the analysis is based on skin color and also in sex, the emphasis of discrimination is on black – who suffer the highest unemployment rates in comparison to other groups, including non-black women. In the metropolitan area of Recife, the rate of unemployment for black women was 18.1% and for non-black women 13.60%. In Fortaleza, for black women it was 11% and for non-black women it was 9.9%.
The research also shows that the salary of blacks is lower in all the metropolitan areas surveyed. In Salvador and São Paulo, the time worked of blacks corresponded to 60.9% and 61% respectively. Less unequal situations were found in Fortaleza and Porto Alegre, where the values of hours worked of employed blacks amounted to 73.3% and 70.6% of non-blacks, respectively.
1. All of these cities are capitals of Brazilian states and many are also the largest cities of their respective states. Belo Horizonte in located in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. Fortaleza is located in the state of Ceará in the northeast. Porto Alegre is located in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. Recife is located in the northeastern state of Pernambuco; Salvador, also in the northeast, in the state of Bahia. São Paulo is Brazil’s economic center and is located in the southeastern state of São Paulo. The Distrito Federal or Federal District contains Brazil’s capital city of Brasília.