Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[op-ed snap] A job crisis, in figures


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Employment data discussed in the newscard. Employment issue is specially mentioned in the Mains Syllabus, and is therfore very important.


What is the main issue?

  1. Much of the debate on employment performance over the last few years has been mired in ambiguity due to the absence of high-frequency employment statistics

Step taken by the government

  1. The government has put in place a taskforce to revamp India’s employment data architecture, but new employment numbers are unlikely to come out anytime soon

Statistics which underscore the severity of India’s job crisis
First: Data from the Labour Bureau’s Annual Household Employment survey

  1. It shows a decline in total employment from 480.4 million (2013-14) to 467.6 million (2015-16)
  2. The only sector to have witnessed a significant increase in employment was wholesale and retail
  3. In the manufacturing sector ( both organised and unorganised) employment has declined over the same time period

Second: data from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI)

  1. It is an enterprise survey which covers only the organised manufacturing sector
  2. It is found that employment to have increased from 12.94 million to 13.25 million between 2013-14 and 2014-15
  3. Given that there is no ASI data beyond 2014-15
  4. Calculations suggest that between 2014-15 and 2015-16, employment in the private corporate manufacturing sector (PCMS) increased by approximately four lakh
  5. In the following time period (2015-16 to 2016-17), a little over three lakh jobs were created in this sector
  6. Given that this is the organised sector where the “good productive” jobs lie, the pace of job creation is far from adequate

Third: NSSO’s recently-released report, “Unincorporated Non-Agricultural Enterprises” (73rd round)

  1. It provides data on unregistered/unorganised firms in the non-agricultural sector (excluding construction) for the year 2015-16
  2. It is found the total number of workers engaged in unorganised manufacturing enterprises increased from 34.88 million to 36.04 million between 2010-11 and 2015-16
  3. On the other hand, the total number of workers engaged in non-household establishments (which employ at least one hired labourer) declined by 0.67 million
  4. Household enterprises pay lower wages and have lower productivity as compared to non-household establishments
  5. The increasing employment in household enterprises is thus a disturbing phenomenon
  6. It seems to be a consequence of the lack of alternative decent employment opportunities

Fourth: Statistics from various administrative data sets

  1.  A noteworthy source in this context is the government’s recently launched National Career Services (NCS), which attempts to provide a nation-wide online platform for jobseekers and employers
  2. As of March 2016, 36.25 million job seekers were registered on the NCS portal. By October 2017, this had increased to 39.92 million against a mere 7.73 lakh vacancies posted on the exchange
  3. An analysis of the NCS data is fraught with several challenges such as limited coverage
  4. And the fact that job seekers registered on the exchange are often already employed in low paying establishments and are in search of better paying jobs in the organised sectors of the economy

The way forward

  1. The numbers given above reinforce the enormous gap between the pace of job creation and demand for productive jobs.
  2. An examination of multiple datasets reaffirm the acuteness of India’s jobs crisis
  3. It is time we stop citing the lack of reliable and timely data as an excuse for having a meaningful debate on job creation


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