The government will aim to release employment data within five months of conducting the relevant surveys and strive to align these releases with GDP data in the long run, the Statistics Ministry told a Parliamentary panel that questioned the significant delay in the release of ‘one of the most important socio-economic indicators’ for policymaking.
Urging the Statistics Ministry to reduce the time lags in releasing the reports based on the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), the Standing Committee on Finance chaired by the BJP’s Jayant Sinha had pointed out that annual as well as quarterly findings from the Survey introduced in 2017, had been plagued by delays.
For instance, while the annual PLFS report for 2019-20 was released in July 2021, the quarterly report for July to September 2020 was released in August 2021. Conceding the need to reduce the delays, G.P. Samanta, Secretary, Statistics and Programme Implementation Ministry, said that attempts to use better technology and curb these delays were underway.
“From current nine months’ time lag, maybe in one stroke, it will be challenging to go to two months. But in a phased manner, nine months or seven months, we will improve this in the near future,” Mr. Samanta told the panel, noting that timeliness was as critical as the quality of data to ensure its utility as a policy tool.
“We can just reduce the nine months’ lag to at least four or five months in the beginning. Then... in the long run, align it with the GDP frequency, it will be good enough,” he added. As of now, the PLFS data had been released till March 2021, and data for the next quarter was expected in 15 days, Mr. Samanta said.
Responding to MPs’ queries about the global benchmark and whether it takes a year for the employment data to be released, the Secretary said: “Definitely not. The benchmark varies from country to country, between maybe two months to five months. We are trying to achieve that benchmark.”