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The unemployment rate fell to 7.1%, the lowest level in a quarter since 2014

The unemployment rate fell to 7.1%, the lowest level in a quarter since 2014

The unemployment rate in the quarter ending in May was 7.1%, its lowest level since 2014. The figure represents a decline from the previous moving quarter, ending in February, when it was 7.8%. It is also lower than the level recorded in the same period in 2023, when it was 8.3%.

When compared to all quarters of the historical series of the Continuing National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), which began in 2012, the index is the lowest since the three-month period ending in January 2015. At that time, the rate was 6.9%. The lowest rate ever recorded was 6.6% at the end of 2014.

The data was released on Friday (28) by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). The survey shows that the number of unemployed people – people aged 14 or over who do not have a job and are looking for one – reached 7.8 million in May. This represents a decrease of 751 thousand people compared to the quarter ending February 2024 and 1.2 million compared to the quarter ending May 2023.

Pnad investigates all forms of professions, whether working with or without a formal contract, temporary or self-employed, for example.


The working population reached 101.3 million people, a record high in the historical IBGE series. This unit is 1.1 million higher than in the quarter ending in February and 2.9 million higher than that recorded in the same period of 2023.

According to IBGE’s Household Survey Coordinator, Adriana Beringui, “The continued growth in the working population has been driven by the expansion of employees, both in the formal and informal sectors. This shows that many economic activities are beginning to register a trend of increasing their potential.”

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To illustrate the assessment, the number of employees with a formal contract (38.3 million) was a record high. “This record does not happen overnight. It is the result of expansions every three months,” says Adriana Beringoy.

The number of undocumented employees was also the largest ever (13.7 million).

Three months later, the public administration, defence and social security, education, health and social services groups stood out in job creation (4.4%, or more than 776,000 people). The transport, storage and postal sectors saw a decrease (2.5%, or 146,000 fewer people). The other groups had no significant differences.

Record the wage bill

The average income of workers in the quarter ending in May was R$3,181, stable compared to the previous quarter (R$3,161) and 5.6% higher in annual comparison. This value is the highest ever for the quarter ending in May. When compared globally, it is the highest since October 2020.

“In 2020, there was high income, but with a loss of the working population,” explains Adriana, referring to the period when the economy suffered from the effects of the pandemic, which led to the reduction of mainly low-paid and informal jobs.

The income mass, the total income received by workers, reached a record level of R$317.9 billion. This value serves as the fuel that drives the economy, both through consumption and savings.

The informal employment rate reached 38.6% of the working population, representing 39.1 million informal workers. In the previous quarter, the indicator reached 38.7%, and last year it was 38.9%.

This informal group mainly includes employees without a formal contract, employers and self-employed workers without a CNPJ.

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Contribution to social security

The IBGE survey revealed that the country has reached a record number of workers with social security contributions. There were 66.171 million in the quarter ending in May. This volume has been growing steadily since the beginning of 2023.

This data represents that 65.3% of workers contributed to Social Security in the quarter ending in May. The highest level recorded was 66% at the beginning of 2016.