Brazil’s national unemployment rate in 2015 rose to its highest since the data series began three years earlier, piling pressure on President Dilma Rousseff who was a prime target in one of the nation’s largest protests ever on Sunday.
The unemployment rate in 2015 averaged 8.5 percent, up from 6.8 percent the prior year, according to data released by the national statistics institute in Rio de Janeiro. In the fourth quarter, the jobless rate was 9 percent, up from 8.9 percent the prior quarter yet below a median estimate of 9.1 percent from 21 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Latin America’s largest economy is lumbering into its second year of recession after shedding more than 1.5 million jobs throughout 2015. Rousseff’s government has been working to implement a fiscal adjustment, displeasing her party’s rank-and-file that has called on her to do more to protect employment. Sunday’s record turnout demonstrated government opposition is growing amid impeachment proceedings.
Anti-government protests have largely drawn support from members of Brazil’s higher economic classes, and indeed more than three-quarters of demonstrators at the Sao Paulo protest were college-educated and white, according to polling company Datafolha. The nationwide protest, however, appeared more mixed than in the past, according to Marco Antonio Teixeira, professor of political science at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.
“There were more people from the lower social classes,” Teixeira said by phone from Sao Paulo before the release of employment data. “Those people are going to the streets above all for fear of losing their jobs, and against the socio-economic situation.”
The nation’s unemployed population rose to 8.6 million on average in the year from 6.7 million in 2014, according to the statistics institute. The institute has been phasing in the national unemployment rate, and will discontinue its series for the six major metropolitan areas after a final release later this month.