The ideal minimum wage should have been almost R$ 6 thousand in January, indicates Dieese

A person counts real currency bills. (Marcello Casal Jr/ Agência Brasil)

Marcela Leiros – Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – The minimum wage of the Brazilian worker increased to R$ 1,212 on January 1 this year, however, the Intersyndicate Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (Dieese) reported, on Monday, 7, that the value should be R$ 5,997.14, in January, for a family of two adults and two children.

Still according to Dieese, the readjustment of the minimum wage from R$1,100, in 2021, to the current value did not represent a real increase in the Brazilian budget due to the inflation registered in the country. “The value results from the addition of 10.16% – 2021 inflation measured by INPC/IBGE (National Consumer Price Index, from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) on the R$1,100, in effect during last year, rounded up (which corresponds to 10.18%) – strictly speaking, the value would be R$1,211.73. Once again, the national floor is without a real increase”, said the department.


Based on the value of the minimum wage, and taking into consideration that the most expensive basic food basket in the country, in January of this year, was registered in São Paulo – R$713.86, according to Dieese’s National Research of the Basic Food Basket – this means that the basic food basket consumes 58% of the income of a family that needs to survive on R$ 1,212. The only Amazonian capital surveyed by Dieese was Belém (PA), where the basic food basket reached R$ 563.97, compromising 46% of the minimum wage.


Survival on a minimum wage, or even less than that, is a reality for people like Cleidimara Souza, 40 years old. The general services assistant receives a gross salary of R$ 1,150 plus the Brazil Allowance of R$ 400, but, supporting her husband and two children, ages 10 and 8, and living on rent, the income guarantees only the essentials.

The family’s rent costs R$ 350 and monthly food costs more than R$ 400, she estimates. Together with other expenses that arise, at the end of the month there are few financial reserves left. “The children study in a public school, I used to pay tutoring, but it was R$ 100 each and I couldn’t continue. The only thing I can’t buy for them is fruit, everything is too expensive. They like oranges, grapes and apples, but sometimes I can’t even buy them”, she explains.

Considering that the ideal minimum wage would be almost R$ 6 thousand, Cleidimara also told CENARIUM what she would dream of doing with this amount. “First of all, I would buy a house to get out of the rent and also buy more healthy food for my children. I can’t even buy fish, because it is more expensive than chicken and meat. And this amount would change my life, especially for all mothers. Sometimes we only eat rice and noodles, beans, no meat”, she plans, still talking about the possible future.

“If I had this money, I would pay the INSS so I could retire and fix my teeth, fix my hair, buy myself clothes, take better care of my appearance. Today, to have my hair done it costs R$ 200, I’m not going to take food away from my kids, right”, she adds.

Basic food basket items

Dieese updated the methodology of the Food Basket, as of January 2009. The products in the Basic Food Basket and their respective monthly quantities are different by region and were defined by Decree 399 of 1938, which is still in force.

In the table, “Region 1” covers the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, Goiás and the Federal District. “Region 2” encompasses the states of Pernambuco, Bahia, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Alagoas, Sergipe, Amazonas, Pará, Piauí, Tocantins, Acre, Paraíba, Rondônia, Amapá, Roraima and Maranhão and “Region 3” is formed by Paraná, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Finally, the “National” considers the average normal basket for the working mass in diverse activities and for the entire national territory.

The items and respective quantities are shown in the table below:

Basic food basket items and the respective quantities, per region (Reproduction/Dieese)


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