- There is no denying the fact that the employment scenario in India was already stressed even before the pandemic played havoc with each of us is more than one way. The economic duress caused by the pandemic in the last two years needs no further elaboration. Thankfully, the introduction of vaccines has emerged as a game-changer allowing the economic activities to pick up the pace. However, the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine followed by unyielding and blunt instrument-like lockdowns in China has severely disrupted global supply chains. The cascading effect is being felt across various verticals directly and indirectly affecting the employment scenarios in many countries, including India.
PC: Sarah Moore
- Against this backdrop, the announcement of the Government of India recently that 1 million people will be recruited by it over the next 18 months is a tacit admission that unemployment is a genuine problem. No wonder, the opposition political parties are baying for the blood for a long time now. Nonetheless, 1 million jobs at one time are small help when 5 million people annually join the labor force, which is 430 million strong. Of course, estimates of unemployment levels vary depending on whose statistics one agrees with. The Government of India’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) places joblessness at 4.6% for June 2021. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s April 2022 data says the rate is 7.4%.
- It is a given that even when the Government of India data for 2022 is released, the gap won’t change much. Youth unemployment estimates between CMIE and GOI show even wider gaps. Although the period of survey and the age groups covered are not the same, it’s striking that unemployment in GOI’s 2020-21 data for the 15-24 age group is 12.9%, while CMIE’s April 2022 data shows 42% for the 20-24 age group and 12.7% for the 25-29 cohort. Yes, there’s a big youth unemployment problem, unpaid work is increasing, the quality of non-white collar jobs is declining, self-employment, a desperate choice for most low-income earners, is going up and real wages have been falling. The need of the hour is to address these crippling challenges efficiently.
- Moreover, no expert reckons that even an economy growing at 7% can by itself solve the jobs problem showing how much the economy has changed structurally. Two concrete things our think tank can consider. Firstly, any obstacle to creating low-skill manufacturing jobs needs to be removed. Performance Linked Incentives are not enough. Central or state policies by themselves are not enough either. There must be a joint Centre-State policymaking. Secondly, a chunk of manufacturing’s near-future jobs will be high-skilled, and only a Centre-State combined effort can make skilling India’s young a reality. Rather than blame each other, all political parties should diligently work towards addressing this grave situation setting aside petty politicking.