At the end of 2019, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) announced a drop in unemployment from 12.3 percent in 2018 to 11.9 percent in 2019, that is, a 0.4 percent reduction. This change is not only insignificant, it’s also distorted: over the same period the number of discouraged workers, who gave up looking for work, increased by 1.4 percent. Informal workers – those without any kind of contract or self-employed – increased significantly, reaching a record number of 41 percent of workers who have some occupation. In practice, this means that unemployment has not decreased. On the contrary, it has led to discouragement or dragged workers into a precarious work situation, in which they are deprived of labour and social security protection, and with very low remuneration.

This article was originally published on 14 March. The situation in Brazil has developed since, and more updates will be forthcoming, but it shows how the Bolsonaro government’s first move was to protect profits and continue attacks on the working class rather than protect public health.