Amidst record unemployment, the country has unoccupied ‘pockets of vacancies’ – Economy

Among the 14.8 million unemployed Brazilians – the biggest mark since the beginning of the IBGE’s National Household Sample Survey (PNAD) in 2012 – there are sectors that are hiring and live a completely different reality from the one prevailing in the country. civil construction, there is a lack of bricklayers, tiles and other workers to fill vacancies in basic functions. In the countryside, there is a real auction of salaries to admit cowboys and machine operators, for example. And, with the advance of the digitization of activities due to the pandemic, logistics and technology service companies became major demanders of labor.

The warming pockets of the job market with and without a formal contract are concentrated in practically three out of ten sectors of the economy – agriculture, construction and in services provided to companies – reveals a study carried out by the consultancy IDs, the request of state, based on Continuous PNAD. In May of this year, civil construction employed almost 12% more workers than in May 2020, at the height of the health crisis. Next comes agriculture, with an increase of about 10% in employed persons, on the same basis of comparison. Finally, there are services rendered to companies, which registered close to 6% growth.

“It is a fragile recovery of the labor market, as many sectors today do not have an increase in employment compared to the peak of the crisis, in May 2020”, says Bruno Ottoni, economist at the IDados consultancy and responsible for the study. He points out that five sectors have a decline in occupation and two – domestic employment and industry – remain stable compared to May 2020. Also in relation to the pre-pandemic period, May 2019, when unemployment was already high, most segments continues with the occupancy level in red.

Search of the PwC Brazill, a consulting and auditing firm, carried out with 62 companies from 16 segments, between October 2020 and March this year, confirms the results of the IDados study. The poll revealed that 79% of companies increased their staff and growth was up to 30% in contractions, driven by agribusiness and technology companies. “The result was a positive surprise, when we look at the unemployment rates,” says Flávia Fernandes, a partner at PwC. Together, the technology and agribusiness segments represent about a third of the sample.

Field occupation grows seven months in a row

Driven by the commodity boom, the occupation in agriculture is heated. In addition to overcoming the height of the crisis, the level is now higher than that recorded in May 2019, the pre-pandemic period. There are currently 8.7 million people working in the countryside and the occupation has been growing for seven consecutive months compared to the previous year.

“With the increase in the price of soybeans and cattle, producers are expanding their crops and herds. As a result, the demand for labor has greatly increased, including wage auctions and increased worker turnover,” he says Jaqueline Lubaski, partner at the Human Resources consulting firm Unlock Desenvolvimento.

She, who has been serving large agribusiness companies in the Midwest, São Paulo and the North region for 25 years, had never witnessed a general increase in the demand for workers: from the manager to the cowboy. “We are desperate because we don’t have cowboys – the person who rides a horse and handles the ox in the pasture – nor a foreman – the chief of the cowboys.”

A year ago, the salary of a foreman in the Midwest was R$ 2,500, with housing, water, electricity, internet. Today Jaqueline says that she offers R$ 3.5 thousand, plus food vouchers of R$ 618, and she can’t hire. “I have several vacancies open.”

Livestock is the most critical segment of lack of labor in agribusiness, says the consultant. As it has always paid lower wages than agriculture, it suffers from competition from crops, where the working conditions to operate a harvester with air conditioning, for example, are much better than touching the cattle on the horse’s back in 40 degrees heat .

Producer Guilherme Pinezzi Honório, with four cattle and grain farms in the Vale do Araguaia region, in Mato Grosso, emphasizes that the situation is more critical in the agricultural frontier areas, where he is located. “This is a problem that I live in the skin.” Labor is so scarce at the moment in your region that even less-skilled machine operators get an offer to earn more. “The labor was inflated.”


In civil construction, especially in São Paulo, the picture is no different. Contractors in the city of São Paulo, which became a major construction site in the pandemic, face the lack of bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, shipowners, winch operators, says Sinduscon-SP’s vice president of Institutional Relations, Yorki Estefan. He argues that demand is being driven by the increase in the number of launches in civil construction, which grew 183% in the first half of this year in the capital compared to the same period in 2020.

“Today we need ten painters and we can’t find them to hire,” says Gilvan Delgado, director and owner of the Atacama contractor, which provides services to construction companies. He says that many of those applying for vacancies are not qualified.

The reflection of scarcity appears in wages. “The collective bargaining agreement in May was around 7% and we are having to pay 15% for basic functions”, explains Mario Rocha, CEO of the construction company Rocontec, which has 28 projects in the capital. With the awards, Antonio de Sousa Ramalho, president of the Union of Workers in the Civil Construction Industries of São Paulo (Sintracon-SP), says that currently there are masons who earn R$ 8,000 per month, while the floor of the category is of R$ 2,030 for 44 hours per week.

The fear of businessmen and the union is that the lack of labor will get worse at the end of this year and beginning of 2022 because of launches already triggered. “We are concerned about the blackout of labor”, says Ramalho, from Sitracon-SP. The union has just signed an agreement with Sebrae/Senai to train 40,000 workers free of charge in 2021 and 2022 for basic civil construction functions.

Powered business.

Another sector with high occupation is business services, which includes logistics, online financial services, Information Technology (IT), for example. In the first half of this year, 100 million purchases were made in e-commerce in the country, with growth of 7% compared to the same period in 2020, according to a report by Ebit-Nielsen. Behind each transaction there is a mass of workers who are busy implementing the technology to close the online purchase, sorting the products and even making the deliveries as quickly as possible.

O Free market, for example, one of the giants of e-commerce and online financial services, is expected to hit record signings this year. The company, which ended 2020 with 4,900 direct employees, now has 10,000 employees. And the perspective is to end 2021 with 16 thousand. “We have grown a lot in hiring for logistics, technology and financial services (fintech)”, he says Patrícia Monteiro, People Director of the company.

To expand the staff, she even needed to more than double the number of employees in her Human Resources department. The director observes that in the logistics area it is easier to find labor. As for the technology and financial services segments, the difficulty is much greater due to competition. “The technology segment is hotter because traditional companies are trying to digitize themselves too.