Jobless growth becomes more systemic -KP Kannan & G Raveendran
Earlier confined largely to the organised sector, it has now spread to other areas, as revealed by the latest survey results
The findings of the latest employment survey, called the Periodic Labour Force Survey (2017-18), are a cause for concern as the scenario is still far from anything that would denote decent employment. The two biggest issues here are: the shrinking share of the labour force; and the rising unemployment.
The labour force participation rate (% of people working or seeking work in the above-15 years age category) in the earlier survey of 2012 was 55.5%. This has shrunk to 49.7% in 2018. There is an absolute decline in the number of workers from 467.7 million in 2012 to 461.5 million in 2018.
Recent attempts by some to create an impression that self-employment has not been captured by the National Sample Survey is absolutely false since the definition of ‘employment’ includes in itself ‘self-’ as well as ‘wage employment’. Within the category of ‘self-employed’, the survey also counts those engaged in ‘unpaid family labour’.
The figure for the overall unemployment rate at 6.1% is 2.77 times the same figure for 2012. A few experts have raised doubts about comparability of estimates between the two periods though we feel that they are not substantial issues that prevent anyone from a judicious comparison.
The rise in overall unemployment has both locational and gender dimensions. The highest unemployment rate of a severe nature was among the urban women at 10.8%; followed by urban men at 7.1%; rural men at 5.8%; and rural women at 3.8%.
When we ignore the location of residence, we find that severe unemployment among men at 6.2% was higher than among women at 5.7%. However, given the sharp decline in women’s labour force participation rate, they have been losing out heavily due to the double whammy of exclusion from the labour force and an inability to access employment when included in the labour force. The decline in women’s labour force participation from 31% to 24% means that India is among the countries with the lowest participation of women in the labour force.
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