Covid broke migration trends, led to temporary rural unemployment: Report

The impact on employment is reflected in the high demand for work under MGNREGA across states, particularly in May-June, the report said
The lockdown during March led to job losses and compelled migrant labourers to return from cities to their native places.

Over the decades, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been the major out-migration states, followed closely by Rajasthan and Odisha. The major in-migration states have been Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat and West Bengal.

Covid-19 switched the sources and destinations of migrant labourers, as the charts show. The charts pertain to data of the Shramik trains that ran during the lockdown, but many opted for other means of travel, including walking all the way back home. Many died en route, but the Centre said it didn’t have any data. The World Bank estimated the reverse migration may have affected as many as 40 million in India.

It transmitted the virus to villages and added to temporary rural unemployment, besides causing labour shortages in urban areas, noted the RBI’s state finance report released on Tuesday. According to it, push factors, namely “high costs of living in urban areas; no earnings; loss of employment; uncertainty about the lifting of the lockdown; limited access to social and unemployment benefits, coupled with pull factors, viz, rabi crop harvesting; seeking other employment opportunities such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA); joining their family members in the native place; and the notion of feeling more safe and secure were the major drivers” of the reverse migration.

Generally, migration happens due to conventional push and pull factors as urban centres offer a more secure economic future with better healthcare. Several other countries also faced similar problems, but the size of the migrant workforce and nature of agglomeration was significantly lower than in India, the state finance report noted.

The impact on employment is reflected in the high demand for work under MGNREGA across states, particularly in May-June, it added.



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