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Construction industry in Brazil - Statistics & Facts

Following years of political and economic crisis in the country, along with a corruption scandal involving some of the highest echelons in the sector, the construction industry in Brazil has been struggling since 2014. The first signs of recovery began appearing in 2019, ensuing an overall optimism for the upcoming years – the value of the industry in Brazil was forecast to grow by more than four percent between 2019 and 2021. Recently, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has added further pressures to an already strained market.

The rise and fall of the construction sector

During the first half of the 2010s, the construction industry in Brazil was soaring – the number of employees in the sector increased by approximately 21 percent between 2010 and 2013, while investments in infrastructure in the country reported a similar 22.6 percent nominal increase in the same period. The sector’s steady growth was then put to a halt in 2014, when a generalized economic and political crisis hit and lingered in the country. By 2018, the number of people employed in construction reached the lowest figure of the decade. Similarly, during this period, the retail sales of construction materials steadily decreased over three consecutive years.

Corruption amongst the leading players

The crisis faced by the Brazilian construction industry is a consequence of more than just the country’s economic and political crisis. In 2014, an investigation known as “Operation Car Wash” uncovered a major corruption scandal in Brazil, revealing a network of briberies between construction companies and politicians. A series of executives were indicted in the process, including the presidents of the two largest companies in the sector - Construtora Queiroz Galvão and Odebrecht Engenharia e Construção. Despite still holding the leading positions in the construction segment, the revenue of Queiroz Galvão decreased by more than 61 percent between 2014 and 2018, while Odebrecht’s revenue dropped by over 72 percent in three years.

The first impacts of COVID-19

With over 60 thousand new construction jobs created in Brazil in the first two months of 2020 (against around 25 thousand in the previous year), there was a lot of optimism for the sector in the beginning of the year. But with the first COVID-19 case reported in Brazil in the end of February, and the number of deaths reaching the second highest in the world, the scenario changed. As of June 2020, the construction industry in the country was forecast to contract by almost two percent that year, down from a previously anticipated growth of 1.7 percent. However, with an average growth of 1.8 percent expected between 2021 and 2024, there is still room for optimism.

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Construction industry in Brazil

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