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National Sample Survey Office’s unemployment data confirms crisis on the ground: experts

Waiting to be hired: According to the NSSO survey, the country’s unemployment rate was at a 45-year-high in 2017-18. The picture shows daily wage labourers waiting for prospective employers, in Delhi.

Waiting to be hired: According to the NSSO survey, the country’s unemployment rate was at a 45-year-high in 2017-18. The picture shows daily wage labourers waiting for prospective employers, in Delhi.   | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

“The NSSO findings are not surprising, but they are alarming. The trends of rising unemployment were already visible,” said Amit Basole, lead author of a report, “State of Working India, 2018”.

The National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO's) data showing a record spike in unemployment in 2017-18, which was published in a news report on Thursday, is a validation of trends seen on the ground, according to labour economists, job-seekers and workers’ representatives. The government’s failure to release the NSSO report was the latest sign of a complete lack of transparency regarding jobs data, they said.

“The NSSO findings are not surprising, but they are alarming. The trends of rising unemployment were already visible. Our analysis showed it was higher in 2015 than in 2011-12, and we expected demonetisation to have a harsh effect,” said Amit Basole, head of the Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University in Bengaluru, and lead author of a report, “State of Working India, 2018”.

Data confusion

Dr. Basole noted that the government’s decision to discontinue the NSSO’s five year surveys, failure to regularly release Labour Bureau data and delay in releasing the NSSO’s periodic labour force survey had led to “an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion. Instead, the government kept citing job numbers based on EPFO’s payroll data and the Mudra loans, which are not helpful,” he said.

“The data, as cited by the news report, shows that there has been a rise in unemployment and a decline in the labour force participation rate (LFPR) post demonetisation, which is in line with what we have also been saying,” said Mahesh Vyas, chief executive and managing director of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), which has done its own unemployment surveys.

“The LFPR is a measure of people looking for jobs. So, if this is declining while unemployment is growing, it means that there is a very real and serious crisis in jobs. The government has to make the data public as soon as possible,” added Anamitra Roy Chowdhury, a labour economist with the Centre for Informal Sector & Labour Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Thursday’s Business Standard report on the NSSO report said overall unemployment was at a 45-year high, with youth between the ages of 15 and 29 facing higher rates of joblessness than others. This comes as no surprise to Anupam, founder of Yuva Halla Bol, a movement of young job-seekers.

“In the last couple of years, the simmering anger among educated youth has been clear. After demonetisation, we have seen that the labour force itself has shrunk,” he said, adding that urban women, who face an unemployment rate of 27% are worst hit.

The informal sector employs more than 90% of the country’s workforce, and has witnessed a decline in available work and wages in the last two years, said Chandan Kumar, coordinator of the Working People’s Charter, an alliance of informal workers’ groups and unions. “Daily wage labourers say they used to get at least 20 days of work each month. After demonetisation, they get only ten days,” he pointed out.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 11:32:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/national-sample-survey-offices-unemployment-data-confirm-crisis-on-the-ground-experts/article26141744.ece

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