Non-agricultural jobs pay better than the agrarian ones, on average, though wage rates vary across different rural occupations

Non-agricultural jobs pay better than the agrarian ones, on average, though wage rates vary across different rural occupations

If someone is a rural male, what occupation would he prefer? A rational person might say that depending on the highest prevailing daily wage rate in a particular occupation (which is subject to seasonal variation) vis-à-vis the rest, he will make his choice.  

An exercise undertaken by the Inclusive Media for Change team based on the latest available month-wise wage data of rural men shows that there is a seasonal variation in average nominal daily wage rate for a particular occupation (agricultural as well as non-agricultural). As a result, if one compares across different agricultural jobs, it could be observed that in January 2018 the highest wage rate was enjoyed by 'Loggers and Wood Cutters' (viz. Rs. 353.3/-), whereas the lowest daily wage rate was received by 'Animal Husbandry Workers, including Poultry Workers, Dairy Workers & Herdsman' (viz. Rs. 225.4/-), in nominal terms. However, in June last year, 'Fishermen Inland' (viz. Rs. 353.5/-) received the highest daily wage rate and 'Animal Husbandry Workers, including Poultry Workers, Dairy Workers & Herdsman' (viz. Rs. 215.4/-) were paid the lowest daily wage rate, in nominal terms.

Reiterating the point as has been made above, one could notice from chart-1 that in ploughing/ tilling, where traditionally there is a predominance of men over women in terms of participation/ use, the nominal daily wage rate for rural men varied from Rs. 274.2 in January 2015 to Rs. 270.3 in July 2015.  
 

 
Kindly click the play/ pause button of chart-1 so as to see the variation in nominal daily wage rates across different agricultural occupations between November 2013 and January 2018. Readers may note that in the present news alert the nominal wage rate data for various farm and non-farm occupations has been sourced from the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Database on Indian Economy.  

On turning our attention to non-farm jobs, it could be found that there is a seasonal variation in average nominal daily wage rate, which is earned by rural men. As a result, one finds that in January 2018 the highest wage rate was paid to 'Mason' (viz. Rs. 455/-), whereas the lowest daily wage rate was given to 'Beedi Makers' (viz. Rs. 199.7/-), in nominal terms. However, in November 2013 the highest wage rate was received by 'Plumbers' (viz. Rs. 397.7/-), whereas the lowest daily wage rate was received by 'Beedi Makers' (viz. Rs. 164.2/-), in nominal terms. Kindly, check chart-2 for details.

It may be noted that among non-farm jobs the second lowest paying nominal wage rate in November 2013 was paid to Sweeping/ Cleaning Workers (viz. Rs. 182.82/-). Likewise, the second lowest paying wage rate in January 2018 was paid to Sweeping/ Cleaning Workers (viz. Rs. 224.85/-). In India, due to caste-wise seggregation of certain traditional occupations, mobility of workers from 'low-paying' and so-called 'unpleasant' jobs into better ones is highly restricted. Social taboo and caste-based prejudices often reinforce restrictions on the movement of labourer from one occupation into another.
 
As mentioned earlier, in case of non-agricultural jobs too, nominal daily wage rate is subject to seasonal variation. For example, the nominal daily wage rate for rural men in weaving fluctuated from Rs. 288.9 in September 2017 to Rs. 287.0 in November 2017. Kindly click the play/ pause button of chart-2 in order to notice the variation in nominal daily wage rates across different non-agricultural occupations between November 2013 and January 2018. 

Do non-agricultural occupations pay better than the agricultural ones? In order to check that the Inclusive Media for Change team has calculated the average (viz. simple arithmetic mean) of the daily nominal wage rates in various agricultural occupations (month-wise) and deflated the same with the respective month-wise figures on Consumer Price Index of Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL, Base Year 1986-87=100) so as to get the average daily real wage rate in agricultural occupations (combined) for rural men.

Likewise, the average of the daily nominal wage rates in various non-agricultural occupations (month-wise) was calculated and it was then deflated by the respective month-wise figures on Consumer Price Index of Rural Labourers (CPI-RL, Base Year 1986-87=100) in order to get the average daily real wage rate in non-agricultural occupations (combined) for rural men.  

 

After plotting the real wage rate data in chart-3, it could be observed that the average daily real wage rate in non-agricultural occupations (combined) has stayed above the average daily real wage rate in agricultural occupations (combined) during the period between November 2013 and January 2018. The average daily real wage rate in agricultural jobs (combined) witnessed a more or less declining trend since April 2017, indicating a decline in purchasing power among farm workers. Similarly, the average daily real wage rate in non-farm jobs (combined) faced a more or less declining trend since May last year (except January 2018).   

Readers may note that the RBI (https://rbi.org.in/) has collated and is releasing monthly time series data on rural wage rates based on the data published by the Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment. Starting from November 2013 the Labour Bureau (http://labourbureau.nic.in/, http://labourbureaunew.gov.in/) is collecting rural wage data with respect to 12 agricultural and 13 non-agricultural occupations across 20 major states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. A note from the RBI's Database on Indian Economy explains that the average wage rates at the national level have been derived by dividing the sum total of wages of all the 20 states by the number of quotations. Please click here to know more about the wage rates of rural men in various agricultural and non-agricultural jobs.  

References

Prices and Wages data accessed from RBI's Database on Indian Economy, please click here to access 

India bearing the cost of ignoring rural distress -Himanshu, Livemint.com, 21 May, 2018, please click here to read more 

Ploughing along in a world of inequalities -Aditi Nigam, The Hindu Business Line, 4 July, 2011, please click here to read more

Image Courtesy: Himanshu Joshi




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