India’s urban jobless rate improves across genders

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Since some kinds of jobs, like those in agriculture, are seasonal in nature, unemployment rate comparisons are best made for the same quarter across years…reports Asian Lite News

India’s urban unemployment rate improved remarkably in the April-June quarter, revealed the National Statistical Office.

It dipped to 7.6 per cent during the April-June quarter from 12.6 per cent during the corresponding quarter a year ago. It is a clear indication that the country’s economy is coming out the grip of Covid-induced slowdown.

India’s urban unemployment rate improved across genders and age groups to its best-ever level in the quarter ending June 2022.

India’s headline urban unemployment rate was 7.6 per cent in the quarter ending June, compared to 8.2 per cent in the quarter ending March, 12.7 per cent in the June quarter of 2021-22, and 8.9 per cent in the June quarter of 2019-20.

Joblessness was high in April-June 2021 mainly due to the staggering impact of Covid-related restrictions in the country.

The 15th Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) showed that the unemployment rate among females (aged 15 years and above) in urban areas declined to 9.5 per cent in April-June, 2022 from 14.3 per cent a year ago. It was 10.1 per cent in January-March, 2022.

Among males, the unemployment rate in urban areas dipped to 7.1 per cent in April-June 2022 compared to 12.2 per cent a year ago. It was 7.7 per cent in January-March 2022.

Since some kinds of jobs, like those in agriculture, are seasonal in nature, unemployment rate comparisons are best made for the same quarter across years.

However, the remarkable improvement in this rate can be seen from the fact that it is the lowest rate since the quarter ending June 2018, the first quarter for which the quarterly bulletins have data, revealed media reports.

That the improvement in unemployment rate was not lopsided can be seen from the fact that it improved across groups. The quarterly bulletin gives a breakup of unemployment rate by gender and by three age groups: all ages, 15-29 years, and 15 years and above.

Unemployment rates for all these groups was the best in the quarter ending June, media reports said.

Similarly, at 37.2 per cent, the labour force participation rate (LFPR) – or the share of population working or seeking work – in the first quarter of the current financial year was the highest for this quarter for any year since 2018-19 and 10 basis points (100th of a percentage point) higher than in the first quarter of last year.

While LFPR was not at its best level in the quarterly bulletin’s history like the unemployment rate, it is enough for it to be best for the June quarter because of the seasonality factor.

The broad industry-wise breakup of workers further showed that employment prospects also improved. The share of workers in agriculture, secondary sector (which includes sectors like manufacturing and mining), and tertiary sector (comprises services) was 5.7 per cent, 34 per cent and 60.3 per cent, respectively.

The share in agriculture is an improvement over the June quarters of FY 2021-22 and FY 2020-21, both affected by lockdowns, but not over FY 2019-20, when only 4.9 per cent were in agriculture.

The share in tertiary sector was similarly a higher 62 per cent in FY 2019-20, a clear sign that though people are seeking and finding jobs with the pandemic under control, they may not be earning as much as they did before the pandemic. These signs will be confirmed or rejected when the unit-level data becomes available, the report stated.

Labour force refers to the part of the population which supplies or offers to supply labour for pursuing economic activities for the production of goods and services and, therefore, includes both employed and unemployed persons.

The NSO launched PLFS in April 2017. On the basis of PLFS, a quarterly bulletin is brought out giving estimates of labour force indicators namely unemployment rate, worker population ratio (WPR), labour force participation rate (LFPR), distribution of workers by broad status in employment and industry of work in Current Weekly Status.

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