Traffic, power generation and others weekly economic indicator insights

The Indian Railways had carried 7.4 per cent lower goods by quantity towards the end of June, and earned around 15.4 per cent less from freight compared to 2019
The June quarter gross domestic product (GDP) numbers released on Monday are expected show record contraction with some experts pointing to a number as high as 25 per cent.

Weekly economic indicators tracked by Business Standard show what may have happened since 2019. The latest numbers show more people may be stepping out as the government continues its gradual unlocking program, but the overall trend points to a stuttering recovery.

Although numbers are better than June, traffic growth is now stagnating in major cities and electricity generation is slipping even as pollution in the capital showed signs of falling again. Business Standard tracks these and other data on a weekly basis to get a sense of how the economy is doing ahead of the release of more comprehensive macroeconomic data like GDP which are often released with a lag. Google data appears later, but all other indicators are as of Sunday, August 30th.

New Delhi traffic was down 17 per cent from 2019 levels. The gap has widened since last week. Mumbai’s traffic congestion has been lower than New Delhi’s. It showed a 42 per cent gap over the same period in 2019, according to data from location technology firm TomTom International (see chart 1). Both cities saw traffic congestion increase after June, but gains seemed to be plateauing last week.

Business Standard tracks levels of nitrogen dioxide. The pollutant is the result of industrial activity and vehicular emissions. Mumbai nitrogen dioxide numbers are little over 10 per cent of 2019 levels based on Bandra locality data. Delhi is closer to 70 per cent (see chart 2). This would suggest more economic activity in Delhi than in Mumbai. This may point to a more pronounced recovery in Delhi than in Mumbai after June.

Power generation levels had recovered to pre-Covid levels after June. It was up in July and through much of August. It is now showing a declining trend. It is down around five per cent for the seven days ending August 30th (see chart 3).

The Indian Railways had carried 7.4 per cent lower goods by quantity towards the end of June, and earned around 15.4 per cent less from freight compared to 2019. There has been  recovery since, with the quantity of goods carried up 1.31 per cent for the weekend of August 22-23. Earnings from the transport of the goods was down less than three per cent. This shows signs of reversal. Both figures are worse for the weekend of August 29-30 (see chart 4).

Search engine Google tracks visits to various categories of places using anonymised location data. More people seem to have stepped out of home, shows the latest data as of August 25. Shopping for essentials like groceries and medicines have risen, going by the number of visits to such stores. Workplace visits are lower than the previous week (see chart 5).


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel