Indigenous people had greater drop in employment and income in the pandemic, says FGV


The indigenous people were most affected by the impacts of the pandemic on the labor market, according to a study by FGV Social (Fundação Getulio Vargas Social Policy Center). The survey uses IBGE data for the second quarter of this year compared to the first.

“Indigenous people, of all groups, are the ones who lost the most. They lost 28.6% of income, unemployment increased more than that of other groups, participation in the labor market fell much more than that of other groups, and the journey fell as much as that of browns, for example “, says Marcelo Neri, director of FGV Social.

2nd quarter employment data *:

Occupancy rate:

  • Indigenous: -2.92%
  • Black: -2.87%
  • Brown: 1.7%
  • White: -1.1%
  • Yellow: + 1.3%


  • Indigenous: -28.7%
  • Black: -21.8%
  • Pardos: -21.4%
  • White: -20.1%
  • Yellow: -12.7%

Worked hours

  • Black: -16.9%
  • Indigenous: -15.7%
  • Pardos: -15.2%
  • Yellow: -14.3%
  • White: -13.1%

Market share rate

  • Indigenous: -14.1%
  • Black: -9.3%
  • Brown: -9.8%
  • White: -7.2%
  • Yellow: -6.8%

* Compared to the first quarter

Informality can be one of the causes

Oiara Bonilla, professor of anthropology at UFF (Universidade Federal Fluminense), says that it is very difficult to determine the cause of this greater impact of the crisis for indigenous people in general, because the activities and way of life vary according to the peoples and regions of the country.

Still, she believes that the high rate of informal work, without a formal contract, can be a fundamental factor in this.

Crafts and fishing

The teacher studies the Paumari, indigenous from southern Amazonas.

Many people in the region depend in part on the sale of handicrafts, fishing, trade, when money circulates in the village
Oiara Bonilla

She also mentions that teachers went unpaid.

“Teachers in indigenous areas (in Amazonas) are outsourced. Not only did they not work, they did not receive it. What I do not know is the proportion that this represents within an indigenous economy in the region,” he says.

Confinement prevented activities

Another point that may have affected the indigenous population was the confinement itself and the fact that certain groups were most affected by the pandemic.

Some peoples confined themselves, preferring to enter the forest, avoid going to the city. Others, sometimes more dependent on money, could not stop moving between villages and cities, and others could not isolate themselves because they live in areas surrounded by farms or roads. They had nowhere to take refuge. And finally, there are those who live in urban areas, such as the Kokama, from the Manaus Tribes Park, who were strongly affected by the pandemic
Oiara Bonilla

“It’s very complicated”, says MS professor

Dyna is a teacher in the Paraguassu village, in Mato Grosso do Sul

Image: Personal archive

The indigenous teacher Dyna Vanessa Duarte Vera works in the village Paraguassu, in indigenous land Takuaraty/Yvykuarusu, in the municipality of Paranhos (MS), 45 km from the border with Paraguay. She also does research at UFGD (Federal University of Grande Dourados) on women in the community who work in the apple harvest in southern states.

She says that working with the apple was the only one available. Almost all men in the community and about 30% of women leave the village during part of the year to work on the harvest in Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.

But with the pandemic, it is totally stopped. Nobody leaves, nobody goes to work, because of the danger. There is no service nearby, in the state or in the municipality. Just had it (the apple harvest)
Dyna Vanessa Duarte Vera

Aid helps, but does not solve

The teacher says that some indigenous people from the area receive emergency aid, in addition to basic food baskets from the government and aid from NGOs, but even so, this does not fully meet the needs of the local population.

“Our situation regarding work is very complicated,” he says.

They [moradores] they are working on a farm, each one is doing their own rock, but it does not fully meet the need. [O trabalho com a maçã] it is the livelihood from which they took to buy clothes, food and school supplies.
Dyna Vanessa Duarte Vera


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