In numbers: The COVID-19 pandemic

Data | The lockdown effect on jobs in India

Workers are left with no jobs due to lockdown imposed in view of coronavirus, at Benz Circle in Vijayawada.   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

In the two weeks following the lockdown that began on March 24, the estimated share of the unemployed in India has reached a peak. While urban workers are the most hit, rural workers too recorded significant job losses. The labour participation rate (employed plus those searching for jobs) also significantly decreased. Fewer people are actively searching for jobs than before, and of them, more now are unemployed.


The overall unemployment rate (represented by the blue line, left axis) in India, as measured by The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE*), showed a sharp increase in the two weeks following the lockdown (measured on Mar. 29 and Apr. 5). Notably, the overall labour participation rate (represented by the yellow line, right axis) recorded a drastic decrease to 36.1% on April 5 from about 42% two weeks back.

What were the unemployment rates and the labour participation rates post lockdown?

image/svg+xml 25 20 15 10 5 0 50 35 Apr. 5, 2016 23.38 36.1 Apr. 5, 2017 Apr. 5, 2018 Apr. 5, 2019 Apr. 5, 2020 40 45

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Urban workers most hit

The migrant exodus that followed the lockdown resulted in the urban unemployment rate (represented by the blue line in the following chart ) crossing the 30% mark by April 5. While the effect was relatively lower in rural areas, the unemployment rate (represented by the red line) crossed the 20% mark. Since 2016, the rural rate crossed the 12% mark only once (Jan. 31, 2016).

How were the urban and rural unemployment rates hit?