25 Million Brazilians Have Chosen Self-Employment

Record result reflects formal market sluggishness; 1.6 million workers became MEI in six months

If she could choose, Paloma Alencar Vieira, 25, would be working exclusively with the elaboration of construction projects. While the plan is stalled, she works on her own, providing services to offices and selling the sweets she produces in the kitchen of her home on the east side of São Paulo. Paloma is MEI, acronym for individual microentrepreneur, a type of framework that gives small service providers conditions to issue invoices and have access to the RGPS (General Social Security System) from a relatively low payment, equivalent to 5% of the minimum wage.

This year, this amount is R$ 55. Service providers also pay R$ 5, referring to the ISS (municipal tax on services), and whoever is in commerce or industry, collects an additional R$ 1 of ICMS (state tax on the circulation of goods and services). The engineering student is also self-employed, a category of occupation that, according to the IBGE, reached record levels this year. In the second quarter, 24.8 million people declared they were working in this model, whether formal, when there is the CNPJ, or informal. It is also a record in relation to the occupied population. Of the 87.7 million people with some type of work, formal or informal, 28.2% were self-employed. In at least 12 states, the percentage of self-employed workers was higher than the national average, exceeding 30%.​

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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