Unemployment in the economy on hold

Norman Adams (1927-2005), The Whole (The Dream I), Oil paint on canvas, 864 × 914 mm, 1964. (Tate collection)


One must look closely at the economy with a vision of totality

The media news in general has been informing that Brazil is almost reaching 15 million unemployed. The number reached 14,761 million or 14,6% of the economically active population (EAP). With the pandemic crisis, the almost 600 people killed by covid-19 are concerned. The breakdown of the productive and service economy has been accumulating social problems not only with regard to the occupation of workers, but also affects everything that revolves around human work: housing, food consumption, circulation, consumption of durable goods, etc.

In the case of food consumption, the media publicizes the strategies of poor people to face wage erosion and the increase in basic foodstuffs – beans and rice. In this regard, the future of today's children is threatened because poor nutrition can lead to poor bone and brain formation, compromising school performance and delaying or cutting schooling and not favoring the harmonious physical growth of children. A social and public health problem worthy of concern and of taking corrective actions.

Therefore, it is urgently necessary to increase the earnings of workers and help with the basic basket of those who lost their jobs, white or black, male or female workers. Ensuring that families have access to sources of protein and calories so that children have physical and mental development in conditions to reach the end of elementary school and can continue until, if they wish to complete higher education. A country that denies these possibilities is destined for human backwardness – be it collective or individual (but in amounts that start to harm the progress of the economy and of the citizens themselves, individually).

Food and human development are taken into account, but one must look closely at the economy with a vision of totality, as suggested by the great geographer and humanist Milton Santos. With a global vision, future partial or specific actions that could deteriorate the health and performance of citizens are avoided. And, in this respect, it is good to remember that if the worker has not developed satisfactorily to produce, he will have little conditions to consume, which can lead to the vicious circle that can be seen today in Brazil: low consumption has reduced the national GDP.

GDP lovers should be on the alert for other possible occurrences, including the lowering of competitiveness at the international level. This has led us to the importation of food. Remember that Brazil was, at one time, considered the “granary of the world”. And has this classification lost its meaning? The fact that we import food indicates this information as true. But, the devastation of the Amazon forest for the advancement of agribusiness (raising and cattle and extensive crops) as they appear in the daily media. But it is export-oriented production. Not to feed hungry Brazilians.

Thus, whites and blacks – as producers/consumers – should receive identical treatment from childhood so that they have the physical and mental development to become effective in shaping Brazilian society. This society will be what each Brazilian is from the cradle. This is why we cannot expect unemployment to discriminate against blacks, as it has been in the past. In the survey by Dieese/Codeplan/Setrab, last June, it shows that unemployment, in general, had a rate of 18,7%, while that of blacks had reached 21,4%, (in June declining to 19,7% ( in July).

But it is young people looking for their first job that the rates give a warning: in June, the unemployment rate for this classification was 24,3%, rising in July to 28,6% of unemployed persons. One wants to think about the future of young people who do not produce because they do not have earnings to buy or the essentials of everyday life, which ends up impacting the retraction of the production of goods and services.

An indication that the economy could be warming up, overcoming the years of waiting, is the reduction in the number of unemployed in the Federal District: in June 2020 there were 327 thousand unemployed and, in June 2021, 308 thousand. These numbers are still high, but if they are gradually reduced, it is to be expected that this picture will be more encouraging from 2021 to 2022. The most optimistic bet is that the economy will warm up again and, as a result, young people will return to job market or start the journey of salary gains and work experience. Returning to being active, the economy adds new work formats, although some want to suppress primordial rights. Without basic rights, overcoming the current stagnation of the economy will not have the expected development for the country's economy. It is the possible forecast.

* Aldo Paviani, geographer, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Brasília (UnB).


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