June 24, 2020 / 8:53 PM / 18 days ago

Nearly 10 million Brazilian workers received no pay in May

BRASILIA, June 24 (Reuters) - Nearly 10 million Brazilian workers did not receive their wage or salary in May, official figures showed on Wednesday, a result of them not working due to the anti-coronavirus social isolation measures and economic crisis sweeping the country.

The figure represents 11.5% of Brazil’s 84.4 million people in work, statistics agency IBGE said, and more than half of the 19 million employees who were not at their place of work as usual last month due to the crisis.

“We already knew a part of the population was away from work, now we know that more than half of them are without income,” said IBGE director Cimar Azeredo. “This is not good.”

Workers’ average incomes fell 18% in May, IBGE said, an indication of how diminishing spending power is likely to hit demand and, as a consequence, overall economic growth.

Economists at BNP Paribas said in a note on Wednesday that Brazil has one of the most fragile labor markets in any emerging country. It was “already weak before the pandemic, joblessness has surged since the outbreak, and (the recovery) is likely to be lengthy.”

The official unemployment rate in the three months to April stood at 12.6%. Central bank president Roberto Campos Neto has said he expects unemployment will eventually rise above 15% this year, while economists at Citi reckon it will approach 18%.

The underemployment rate, however, stands at a record 25.6%. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever and Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro Editing by Alistair Bell)

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