Govt keeps job data close to its chest -Basant Kumar Mohanty

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published Published on Oct 1, 2018   modified Modified on Oct 1, 2018
-The Telegraph

Two reports, published every 3 months of the Quarterly Employment Survey, not released by the Narendra Modi govt

New Delhi: Quarterly employment data considered reliable by even critics of the Narendra Modi government have not been released for this year so far, prompting concern the survey may be discontinued to hide potential warts that hold considerable significance in an election year.

Two reports of the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) are due now. The report is published every three months, covering the previous quarter.

The second quarter (July-September) of the current financial year ended on Sunday without clarity on the fate of the reports for the last quarter of the previous financial year (2017-18) and the first quarter of ongoing one (2018-19).

If the Centre fails to release the quarterly reports soon, it will reinforce fears expressed by critics that the survey may be given a burial since several previous reports had found negative job growths in key sectors like construction and manufacturing.

Also, the Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS) report for 2016-17 has not been released 18 months after the financial year ended, although the report for 2015-16 was published as early as September 2016. Sources said the annual report might be published soon.

The annual report for 2015-16 had found a rise in the unemployment rate for people above 15 from 4.9 per cent in 2013-14 to 5 per cent (no report was published for 2014-15).

The government says the 2016-17 data are still being processed. Both the QES and EUS are done by the Labour Bureau.

On June 11 — by when one QES report was pending (January-March 2018) — the labour and employment ministry had issued a media release saying a committee was examining the survey’s “limitations”.

The committee, headed by T.C.A. Anant, former chief statistician of India, was given a month but hasn’t yet handed in its report more than three months later. Another QES report (April-June 2018) is pending now.

“The QES gives more or less a practical picture in employment generation. The survey has found employment degeneration in many sectors,” Tapan Sen, general secretary with CPM labour arm Citu, said.

“The government is not interested in continuing the survey. The committee has been set up to find flaws in the survey so that it can be discontinued.”

Anant said there were “issues” with the survey’s design and sampling practices. “I have asked the Labour Bureau and government statisticians to do certain exercises and provide the inputs. We are working on it,” he had told The Telegraph in August-end.

On Sunday, labour ministry officials said the Anant committee had yet to submit its report.

The then UPA government had started the QES in 2008 to assess the impact of the global financial crisis on India’s job scene. The survey used to collect sample data from 2,000 establishments, each employing more than 10 workers, from eight sectors: manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, education, health, accommodation and restaurants, and IT/BPO.

From April 1, 2016, the government revised the sample size to 10,000 establishments. Seven reports were released since then, the last in March this year for the period October-December 2017.

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The Telegraph, 1 October, 2018,

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