Brazil unemployment hits eight-year low in April

A protestor waves the Brazilian national flag outside the Duque de Caxias refinery in metropolitan Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  AFP PHOTO / Carl DE SOUZA

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 31, 2023 (AFP) – Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent for the three months through April, an eight-year low for the period, officials said Wednesday, welcome news for President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s bid to jump-start the economy.

The rate was down from 8.8 percent for the period from January to March, and the lowest for February-April since 2015, when it was 8.1 percent, according to national statistics institute IBGE.

“The seasonal pattern is typically for an increase in unemployment for the sliding three-month period from February to April… which didn’t happen this time,” said IBGE analyst Alessandra Brito.

Veteran leftist Lula returned to office for a third term in January, looking to restore Latin America’s biggest economy to solid growth, after it contracted by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022.

He has locked horns with the central bank, which he accuses of putting the brakes on economic growth by holding the benchmark interest rate too high — currently 13.75 percent.

The country of 215 million people currently has 9.1 million workers looking for jobs. Another 38 million work in the low-paying informal sector, or 38.9 percent of the employed population, according to IBGE.