Nearly 1 in 5 Brazilians say they’ve been stranded without any income. Half of the country is struggling to put food on the table. Nineteen million say they’re going hungry. The unemployment and inequality rates are at record highs. After the government reduced a program of pandemic payments to the poorest Brazilians, the largest number of Brazilians in a decade tumbled into extreme poverty, living on less than $2 per day. The homeless population swelled.
“When people are scared of getting sick, and when people are getting sick on the scale that they are in Brazil, there’s going to be a lot of instability,” said Marcelo Neri, an economist at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, a university in Rio de Janeiro. “This has been terrible for the economy, especially for informal workers.”
Brazil has now been left with the worst of both worlds: A half-million dead — more than anywhere outside the United States — and millions more without work.