Job data to cover units with less than 10 staff

The Chandigarh-based Labour Bureau will now include establishments with less than 10 workers in its quarterly jobs survey as the majority of the workforce is employed by smaller outfits.


The government is of the view this will depict a better picture of the employment situation in the country at a time when a debate is on over jobless economic growth.


Senior labour ministry officials said the bureau was in the final stage of identifying the number of entities that would be included in the sample survey. Currently, the survey includes establishments with 10 or more workers from eight sectors — manufacturing, construction, trade, health, education, restaurants and hotels, information technology and business process outsourcing as well as transport. “The problem with the current survey is that the sampling survey for the quarterly data consists only of just over 20 million workers even after the new series, which we started in September 2016. This is primarily because the survey was looking at establishments that only have 10 or more workers. We have decided to rectify that,” a senior official of the Labour Bureau said.


The revamped survey, for which fieldwork will start soon, would be released by the first quarter of 2018-19.


Recent Labour Bureau surveys have shown limited progress on the job creation front in the eight core sectors of the economy. According to the latest quarterly employment survey, the number of jobs created in 2015 and 2016 was the lowest since 2009, the first year when these figures were put out. Simultaneously, the labour ministry’s effort to include more workers under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is likely to prop up the formal workforce number.


The provident fund body added 10,131,453 new subscribers due to a new enrolment scheme, according to data reviewed by Business Standard. This was higher than its expectation of 10 million new employment. Most of the new enrolment was from urban areas such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, with the country’s financial capital adding the highest number of subscribers at 1,287,500.


A task force chaired by former NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya recommended that counting of formal jobs should use other data sources such as the EPFO, National Pension Scheme (NPS) and other private pension schemes, besides existing sources like the National Sample Survey, to measure employment and job growth.


The panel was set up to suggest ways to revamp employment data surveys to ensure timely and reliable data for policy-making. There was a view within the government that the current surveys by the Labour Bureau and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) do not provide a real picture on job creation. Labour Bureau gives enterprise-based job surveys, while NSSO gives household-based employment surveys.


The NSSO is also revamping its job surveys; fieldwork is on. From next year, it will introduce annual surveys, accompanied by quarterly ones, for urban areas. Currently, it gives these surveys once in five years. The latest one was done for 2011-12, which was an exception as it came after the 2009-11 survey.


That survey was introduced two years after the previous one because 2009-10 was a drought year. The Centre was of the view that it was not the year that would give the right picture of jobs in the country.


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