Exodus from Brazil
Every year is filled with hopes and plans for the future. For Brazilians, the forecast is not great, at least economically speaking. Economists are predicting 2016 will see Brazil’s economy again in recession, retracting 2 or 3 percent. This would mark the second year in a row of a retraction in GDP growth, following nearly 4 percent negative growth in 2015.
As a result of the unstable economic and political situation, thousands of Brazilians are making plans to move to the US, in addition to the million or so Brazilians already there. Certainly the highest profile departure of a Brazilian for the US is Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, who quit his post in the government last December. The University of Chicago-educated Levy had already spent part of his career at the International Monetary Fund. He’ll now be moving to Washington to be the financial director of the World Bank.
With unemployment on the rise in Brazil, heading into 11 percent, even middle-class, educated Brazilians are leaving. They are having a harder time finding jobs now than they have in the past 13 years. Historically, most Brazilians moving to the US were working class and willing to work in Miami as limousine drivers, or bakers reporting for work at 3 am at a Boston Dunkin’ Donuts shop.
Brazil’s Foreign Ministry estimates that of all Brazilians living abroad, 40 percent of them are in the US. Brazil’s economy is abysmal: high unemployment combined with high inflation and the recession. Some educated Brazilians would rather work as dishwashers in Miami than sell cellphones in a mall. And now that the US is doing well, Brazilians are looking for jobs and that elusive “American dream.”
Those that aren’t moving to the US to work are moving there to study. Over the last 12 months, Brazil’s student population in the US rose 78.2 percent, according to the Institute for International Education.
Newspaper Estado de São Paulo reported recently on a number of middle-class Brazilians who couldn’t find productive jobs in Brazil. One man, Wesley Morais, studied commercial aviation in Brazil, but he is now in Boston washing dishes 12 hours a day. He told Estadão that he is making as much money washing dishes as he was making as a recent university graduate in Brazil.
Of course, it must be remembered that while salaries are higher in the US than in Brazil, the cost of living in the US is also higher. For example, the average rent for an apartment in Boston is $2,100 per month, over 7500 reais with the current exchange rates.
[Research for this article comes from Forbes online]