There are 13.8 million Brazilian workers in the informal job market. They are almost 25% of the total working population of the country, and the majority (60%) is between 18 and 39 years old.
A research by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) shows that, in spite of not having a fixed income, 84% of street vendors, taxi drivers, “trash scavengers,” van drivers, and small business owners want to remain in the informality.
The 2003 research shows that men started working on their own to escape from unemployment, while women’s main reason was to supplement family’s income.
Informal workers prefer to work on commerce, repair services, and construction businesses. Street vendors dispute sidewalk space selling all sorts of products, including food.
This is the case of Alexander Jesus da Silva, 26. An unemployed electrician who completed middle school, he decided to sell fruit salad with ice cream at a sidewalk in the west side of Rio. He says that his profit reaches US$ 613 (1.500 reais) per month, enough to support wife and two daughters.
According to the IBGE research, from 1997 to 2003 the number of informal workers increased 8%, and the number of companies in the informal sector grew 9%.
In 2003, the sector had an income of US$ 7.1 billion (17.6 billion reais), which was inferior to that of six years ago, US$ 8.2 billion (20.07 billion reais).
Profits also decreased, but nevertheless, 70% of informal workers used part of their profits for new investments.
“The sector’s growth, in a way, helped reduce pressure on the formal job market, because there were 13.8 million less people on job lines. However, informal workers usually do not have social protection, because very few of them pay for social security. Without mentioning lower income and higher work load,” explained the IBGE economist who is responsible for the research, Amanda Duarte Mergulhão.
The research was performed in approximately 55 thousand households of all Brazilian states.