The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)’s household survey of employment-unemployment is also likely to throw up adverse trends for 2017-18 – a year after the ripple effects of demonetisation were seen in the economy with the GDP growth slowing down to 6.7 per cent – the lowest under the present regime.
However, what could be worse news
for policy watchers, the NSSO may not release its annual household survey – supposed to be the most robust data set on jobs in recent years – before the general elections slated to be held in the first half of this year. The government also hasn’t released the Labour Bureau’s household survey report, despite the necessary approvals in place.
There is no official survey conducted by the government after 2017-18, but according to the latest report by private think-tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the country's unemployment rate shot up to a 15-month high of 7.4 per cent in December 2018. In 2018, 11 million people lost their jobs
, as per the report.
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)’s monthly payroll data
fails to offer any conclusive trend on job creation, largely due to its volatility and a government-appointed technical panel has recently suggested aligning data in line with National Industrial Classification (NIC) standards. Besides, most of the job creation
in the formal sector may be attributed to employers’ taking benefit of a subsidy scheme announced by the government.
The employment outlook doesn’t look encouraging, going by empirical evidence. More households feel the employment situation will worsen in the upcoming year, as per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s Consumer Confidence Survey
of November 2018 done in 13 major cities.
The unemployment rate in India will stand at 3.5 per cent in 2018 and 2019 – the same level of unemployment seen in 2017 and 2016, according to projections made by the International Labour Organisation
(ILO). The ILO had earlier projected unemployment rate at a notch lower level of 3.4 per cent for 2017 and 2018.
A problem that no political party seems to be addressing is the declining participation of females
in India's workforce. As the Labour Bureau's data shows, females are dropping out of the workforce. And there may be reasons beyond access to education and rising household incomes. The NSSO's unpublished report, which apparently shows a shrinking size of India's workforce at an overall level, is certainly a sign of distress.
Another trend that needs immediate attention of the political forces is the rising unemployment in urban areas pre- and post-demonetisation.
But for finding solutions, we need the data. Can the government walk the talk and release the missing jobs data to make a beginning?