Freire Towers

People speculated that the end of the R$600 emergency aid helped to bring down Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity. The impressive numbers from the IBGE income survey, the Pnad Annual, released on Friday, reinforce the hypothesis.

The income of Brazilians who are among the poorest 40% had a relevant gain in 2020, the first year of the epidemic. Among the poorest 10%, the average increase was 15% above inflation, for example, reaching the highest level since 2016. For the rest of the poorest 40%, the advance was smaller, but real income in 2020 reached to be higher than in 2015.

For the “richest” 60%, average income has dropped in 2020, although surveys like Pnad don’t capture certain gains from people at the top of the pyramid well.

Income here means “household income per capita” (sum of all people living together divided by the number of people living in the house). It includes income from work, Social Security, social assistance or any other.

In 2021, all income classes lost — the poorer, the bigger the fall. Not only was the advance of 2020 lost, but income fell to the worst level of the decade, the lowest since at least 2012 (it is the last year for which there are comparable data).

The assistance has diminished, as has its effect on small local economic circuits, perhaps on employment/became in the periphery and smaller towns. Inflation did the rest of the damage. Last year, the income of the poorest 5% in Brazil was 48% lower than in 2012.

Between August and December 2020, Bolsonaro’s grade would reach the best level, with the exception of the first quarter of 2019, the beginning of his term. In the second half of 2020, the assessment of the economic situation also improved, although still negative.

After the end of 2020, Bolsonaro’s assessment would never get out of the red: the number of people who gave him a “bad/very bad” grade was always greater than that of “great/good”.

In 2021, economic activity, GDP, grew, offsetting the losses of 2020, a “V” recovery, as Paulo Guedes likes to say. But the income advance, oh, it was way below “O”, zero.

Based on the data currently available at the IBGE, it is not possible to conclude that the increase in the income of the poorest was due precisely to emergency aid. But the variation in per capita household income between 2019 and 2021, from high to low, was more expressive in homes where assistance was received.

It is not appropriate to give excessive credit to economic explanations — remember June 2013. And why do women vote less for Bolsonaro? They suffer more with poverty, but is that all? What’s more, the end of 2020 was the end of the epidemic; the first half of 2021 was one of brutal upsurge, the months of greatest slaughter.

Bolsonaro’s atrocities must have insulted the already wounded: he mocked the asphyxiated sick, sent people to their death (to stop being “sissy”) and rode on a jet-ski while tens of thousands agonized or buried their dead without saying goodbye. He had no say in the growing hunger.

Bolsonaro’s unpopularity would grow until September 2021, remaining at more or less this record level until February of this 2022. Then the number of people with some work would start to grow significantly, although the average salary value is also still the worst of the decade. .

Last but not least, the gap between average white and black wages widened in the 2016 recession. In 2021, white people earned on average 77.6% more than black people.​

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