Release NSSO data on employment without any changes, says panel

A key panel on labour statistics met on Monday and resolved that the National Sample Survey Office's (NSSO's) periodic labour force survey (PLFS) report for 2017-18, which showed unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent, should not be altered, as it has already been approved by the panel, according to sources.

A separate committee will be set up to do a post-survey analysis of the NSSO's PLFS report.

"There was a long discussion on the NSSO's annual PLFS report for 2017-18 and most members were of the view that once the standing committee has given its approval to the report in December, there should be no scope of any alteration to the survey report," said a person aware of the deliberations in the meeting.

The Standing Committee on Labour Force Statistics (SCLFS) is headed by University of Calcutta Emeritus Professor S P Mukherjee and includes various experts and NSSO officials. The committee was tasked to recommend sampling design for labour force statistics, among other mandates.

Two officials of the SCLFS concurred that the NSSO's PLFS report of 2017-18 was taken up for discussion and the consensus in the meeting was not to bring any changes to the report.

 

The government has withheld the release of the NSSO's PLFS report which showed the unemployment rate touching a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18. This is despite all the necessary approvals in place - one by the SCLFS on December 4 and the other by the National Statistical Commission (NSC), the apex autonomous body on statistics, on December 5 last year.

The SCLFS met for the first time after its meeting on December 4, when it had approved the NSSO's PLFS report for 2017-18.

"It is expected that the government will release the annual PLFS report within a month without any changes," another official said, requesting anonymity.

A decision to set up a sub-committee was taken in the meeting to separately look into various issues flagged by government officials in the NSSO report, a third SCLFS member said. The sub-committee will look into the issue of underestimation of population by the NSSO in its surveys.

It will also examine whether the changes in the sampling design of the NSSO's PLFS had any impact on the estimation of the labour force participation rate, the unemployment rate, among others. "Though the general view was that the changes in sampling design may not have a

significant impact on the survey results," one of the persons cited quoted said.

Niti Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant, who is a member of the NSC, had flagged off some concerns related to underestimation of population by the NSSO, in a column written for this newspaper last month.

The NSSO survey reports on employment and unemployment over the years have been underestimating the country's population, when compared to the population projections made through the Census data. The difference essentially comes because the NSSO estimates the population based on its sample size of 100,000-odd households.


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