This refers to the article, “‘Jobless growth’ no more” (April 17). The data presented seem to project a rosy picture of employment growth. Indeed, there is prima facie evidence too. But what the article has deceptively refrained to address is the underlying structural shift.

For example, it says that construction jobs grew by only eight million between 1999 and 2004 and by about 25 million in 2004-11. What is missing is the growth of manufacturing sector jobs. Consider this: the overall growth rate of non-farm jobs during 1999-2004 was higher (8.4 million per annum) than that during 2004-2011 (6.9 million per annum). Combining this data with data on construction jobs indicates a steep slowdown in the growth of manufacturing jobs. This is a marked departure from the “conventional structural change.” This is especially worrying because jobs in the construction sector are casual jobs having a high degree of volatility with no social security. Moreover, this job growth has been overwhelmingly in the rural areas and likely to be of poor quality. Lastly, the construction sector, unlike the manufacturing sector, barely helps in boosting exports.

Another aspect of employment growth over the last decade is shifting demography. Almost the entire drop in farm jobs has been in the young age group accompanied by a remarkable increase in enrolment in educational institutions. An achievement, it also means that our economy is set to witness tremendous growth in the workforce in the coming years where there is a demand for high-quality jobs. A transition from a low-income economy to a middle-income economy requires not just employment growth but growth in “formal sector” jobs with social security.

The data cited here are from “The Demographic Challenge and Employment Growth in India,” Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 49, No.6.

Akhil Goyal,

New Delhi

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