RIO DE JANEIRO: Thousands of Brazilians lined up Wednesday at a Rio jobs fair, many of them so desperate to escape the country’s economic nosedive that they said they’d take anything on offer.
In a symbol of Brazil’s precipitous slide into economic hardship, the almost stationary queue stretched right across a large central square.
They were young, old, women, men, and their anxious faces told the story of a country where unemployment in the first trimester was 10.9 percent, the economy is forecast to shrink by 3.88 percent this year and an impeachment trial against the president has triggered political upheaval.
Rubens Antonio, 44, said he had worked at the BNDES national development bank just up the road until he was laid off in 2014. “That’s when the economic crisis started. I haven’t had steady work since,” he said.
At the end of the line was a small tent where a half dozen union representatives collected resumes and took interviews. On offer was something increasingly precious in Brazil: 6,000 jobs.
The jobs, offered by a variety of companies taking part in the collective recruitment event, “range from managers to cooks and painters,” said Fabiano Guedes, an organizer.
Guedes said the line had been just as long all day and that by mid-afternoon he estimated 4,000 people had turned up, with many more to come by the evening. Thousands more people would be filing applications online.
“I knew there’d be a lot of people, but not this many,” he said. “We’re in crisis. Brazil is broken.”
Taking whatever comes
In the tent, interviewers wore shirts emblazoned with “Be Work Happy,” the slogan of an online recruitment tool company assisting the event, which was organized by a trade union group.
But unlike a typical jobs fair where people apply for specific careers, many here were blindly offering their resumes so that they could enter the pool and hope to be picked for anything at all.
Diego Pouco, a 19-year-old information technology student, said he would prefer to work in administration, but had joined the line without even knowing what was available.
“All we know is they have a lot of openings in various areas,” he said.
Pouco, standing with his friend Felipe Val, also 19, had waited for three hours and was about halfway to the tent.
“My feet are kind of tired, but that’s OK, I’m a young guy,” he said.
Val said that leaving school when Brazil is in such dire straits is a challenge, but that he is determined to find work.
“We’re always looking,” he said, estimating that out of his friends just three had the jobs they’d hoped for and that he, like most others, got nothing more than badly paid internships.
“Fighting for an opportunity is what motivates me,” he said.
Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer, who took over after Dilma Rousseff was suspended on May 12 to face an impeachment trial, says that he will institute new business friendly policies in a bid to resuscitate Brazil’s economy.
However, those reforms could involve painful cuts to social programs and already Temer’s government is facing questions over its links to a massive corruption scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras.
Antonio said the impeachment of Rousseff and switch to Temer did not give him hope. “It’s not going to change anything,” he said. “They’re all the same thieves.”