Baltimore bridge collapse, Employment scenario in India, Gaza ceasefire talks, and more | The week in 5 Charts

Here are five charts that will help you understand some of the key stories from last week

Updated - March 31, 2024 05:33 pm IST

Published - March 31, 2024 04:38 pm IST

(1) Employment scenario in India grim: ILO

On Tuesday, March 26, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Institute of Human Development (IHD) released the India Employment Report 2024. India’s youth account for almost 83% of the unemployed workforce and the share of youngsters with secondary or higher education in the total unemployed youth has almost doubled from 35.2% in 2000 to 65.7% in 2022, as per the report.

The youth employment and underemployment increased between 2000 and 2019 but declined during the pandemic years, the study, released by Chief Economic Adviser V. Anantha Nageswaran, said, adding that educated youths have experienced much higher levels of unemployment in the country during the period.

Also, almost 90% of workers remain engaged in informal work, while the share of regular work, which steadily increased after 2000, declined after 2018. There are widespread livelihood insecurities, the report added, with only a small percentage being covered with social protection measures, precisely in the non-agriculture, organised sector. “Worse, there has been a rise in contractualisation, with only a small percentage of regular workers covered by long-term contracts,” the report said. While India’s large young workforce is a demographic dividend, the report noted that they don’t appear to have the skills to deliver — with 75% of youth unable to send emails with attachments, 60% unable to copy and paste files, and 90% unable to put a mathematical formula into a spreadsheet.

(2) Cargo ship hits Baltimore’s Key Bridge, causing it to collapse

On March 26, a container vessel ran into the pillar of a bridge on the Patapsco River in Baltimore, bringing a part of the structure crashing down together with some people and cars on the bridge. By late March 27, the U.S. Coast Guard had concluded its search in the river for the bodies of the six people who fell.

The Singapore-flagged container ship “Dali” collided with one of the pillars of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore at approximately 1:30 am local time. The ship belongs to the Danish shipping giant Maersk and is managed by the Synergy Marine Group, headed by Rajesh Unni. It had two pilots at the time of the collision. According to the vessel information provided by the Synergy Marine Group, the crew was “All Indian, 22 in total”.

Maryland governor Wes Moore later declared a state of emergency. The emergency response to the collision and collapse included fire service personnel, police officers, and officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, they were present to ascertain whether the collision was accidental or deliberate. As of March 28, federal officials had virtually ruled out deliberate intent.

The Dali is propelled by a nine-cylinder two-stroke diesel engine. According to the Coast Guard, just before the collision, the Dali lost all mechanical power, electronics, and the ability to steer the ship, pointing to an engine failure.

In 2016, the Dali had collided with and damaged a container terminal berth in Antwerp. In 2023, Chilean authorities reported issues with Dali’s propulsion system, although according to Singaporean authorities the vessel had cleared two inspections at foreign ports in June and September that year.

Diverted cargo and supply chain disruptions have left businesses rushing to avoid an economic hit following the collapse of the major bridge in Baltimore. With vessel traffic at the Port of Baltimore suspended until further notice since Tuesday’s accident, experts warn of knock-on effects but say these should be manageable in the near term.

Baltimore is the biggest vehicle-handling port in the country, including cars and heavy farm equipment, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told a press briefing. He estimates there is between $100 and $200 million in value coming through the port daily, with “about $2 million in wages that are at stake every day.”

(3) UN passes resolution for ceasefire in Gaza

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all hostages on March 25. This was the first time the body has managed to call for such a ceasefire. Previously, resolutions were passed for a pause in the war to allow aid to reach Gaza. However, veto votes from the Council’s permanent members prevented a ceasefire resolution from passing.

This time, the United States abstained from the resolution while the 14 other members voted yes. The chart below shows the previous resolutions related to a ceasefire that were introduced in the Security Council and how the five permanent members (Russia, China, UK, USA, France) voted.

The United States has always vetoed ceasefire resolutions introduced by other members. This has also been the case when it comes to resolutions passed in the General Assembly. In fact, the United States has used its veto power over 50 times against resolutions critical of Israel.

So, the abstention this time did not go down well with Israel. It accused the United States of retreating from its “principled” position and cancelled a high-level meeting between the country’s leaders to discuss a military operation in Gaza’s Rafah. The abstention this week signals an important development in US-Israel relations. The timeline below shows the evolving relationship between the two countries.

(4) India’s core sector output growth spurts to 6.7% in February

India’s eight core sectors’ output growth spurted to a three-month high of 6.7% in February, led by double-digit upticks in coal, natural gas and cement even as fertilisers’ production fell 9.5% to record the sharpest contraction since May 2021.

January’s Index of Core Industries (ICI) was revised to reflect a 4.1% rise, compared with the previous estimate of 3.6%, but that remained the slowest growth in 15 months. This is the second month in a row that fertilisers output dipped year-on-year, and marks the first such streak in two years.

In absolute terms, overall output levels were at a three-month low and 4.9% below January’s levels, which had marked a ten-month high. In sequential terms, the only segment to record an uptick over January’s production level was Cement (up 1.74%).

“The 6.7% uptick in February reversed the declining trend seen in December and January and cumulative growth so far in 2023-24 has been smart at 7.7%, coming over the 6.8% growth last year,” Bank of Baroda’s chief economist Madan Sabnavis said.

(5) Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to step down

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun will step down by year-end, in a broad management shake-up brought on by the planemaker’s sprawling safety crisis stemming from a January mid-air panel blowout on a 737 MAX plane. The planemaker also said that Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO, would retire, and Stephanie Pope would lead that business. Steve Mollenkopf has been appointed the new chair of the board.

Mr. Calhoun’s has been under pressure since the January 5 incident, when a door plug ripped off an Alaska Airlines flight about 16,000 feet above the ground. The company is under heavy regulatory scrutiny and U.S. authorities curbed production while it attempts to fix safety and quality issues.

Last week, a group of U.S. airline CEOs sought meetings with Boeing directors to express concern over the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 accident, saying it was an unusual sign of frustration with the manufacturer’s problems and Mr. Calhoun.

The company is in talks to buy its former subsidiary Spirit AeroSystems as well. The company’s crisis has frustrated airlines already struggling with delivery delays from both Boeing and its rival Airbus, and the planemaker has been burning more cash than expected in this quarter than expected.

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