Fifty lakh people have lost their jobs after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation exercise in November 2016, according to a report by Azim Premji University's (APU’s) Centre for Sustainable Employment. India’s unemployment reached its highest – at 6% in 2018, double of what it was during the decade between 2000 and 2010. The latest report on jobs by APU has come at a time when employment is one of the biggest poll planks in the ongoing elections.
The report by Azim Premji University’s researchers led by Amit Basole said that with the government not releasing results of the new high-frequency Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), they used the data from the Consumer Pyramids Survey of the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE-CPDX) to understand the employment situation between 2016 and 2018.
“Unemployment, in general, has risen steadily post 2011. Both the PLFS and the CMIE-CPDX report the overall unemployment rate to be around 6 per cent in 2018, double of what it was in the decade from 2000 to 2011,” the report posted on the university’s website said.
India’s unemployed, it said, were mostly the higher educated and the young.
“Our analysis of CMIE-CPDX reveals that five million men lost their jobs between 2016 and 2018, the beginning of the decline in jobs coinciding with demonetisation in November 2016, although no direct causal relationship can be established based only on these trends,” it said.
A leaked report of the PLFS by the NSSO had shown unemployment at a 45-year high of more than 6 per cent in 2017-18, but the government has officially not yet released the report, saying the version reported in the media was not final.
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The APU research report said that while the graduates make up for 10% of the working age population among the urban women, they also form 34% of the unemployed. The age group 20-24 years is hugely over-represented among the unemployed. Further, among urban men, this age group accounts for 13.5% of the working age population but 60% of the unemployed.
“In addition to rising open unemployment among the higher educated, the less educated (and likely, informal) workers have also seen job losses and reduced work opportunities since 2016,” it said. “In general, women are much worse affected than men. They have higher unemployment rates as well as lower labour force participation rates.”
The report said India’s labour statistics system is in transition and the five-yearly employment-unemployment surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSS-EUS), the last of which was in 2011-12, have been discontinued. The annual surveys conducted by the Labour Bureau (LB-EUS) have also been discontinued. The last available survey in this series is from 2015.
“CMIE-CPDX is a nationally representative survey that covers about 1,60,000 households and 5,22,000 individuals and is conducted in three ‘waves’, each spanning four months, beginning from January of every year. An employment-unemployment module was added to this survey in 2016,” the report said.
“We find that the CMIE-CPDX estimates of the labour force participation rate (LFPR) and the workforce participation rate (WPR) for men are comparable to those from the LB-EUS survey, as well as the NSS-EUS. For women, these rates differ substantially across surveys,” read the report.
Citing the report, the Congress party has hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in a series of tweets, said on Wednesday that the report by Azim Premji University was "another confirmation that lakhs of jobs were lost after demonetisation".
Taking a dig at the PM, he said: "PM claims there is no unemployment in India. This is the problem if the PM will fly around the world but will not drive on the roads of India or walk on the streets of small towns and villages."
Also read: Thwarted NSSO Report Pegs Unemployment Rate at 4-Decade High of 6.1% in 2017-18