Assembly Elections 2023: A Snapshot of Employment Needs Through Demand for MGNREGA Work

A higher demand may suggest increased unemployment or underemployment.

New Delhi: The demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in India can be an indicator of employment needs in rural areas. The number of people demanding MGNREGA work reflects the demand for manual labour in rural regions. A higher demand may suggest increased unemployment or underemployment.

However, the demand for MGNREGA work can be influenced by various other factors as well, such as seasonal agricultural patterns, administrative lapses, wage delays, and other local and economic dynamics.

The Wire analyses the demand for MGNREGA work in the poll-bound states.

In Rajasthan, at the peak of COVID-19, the demand for MGNREGA jobs in the state was the highest. Around 7 million people demanded work, according to data collated by How India Lives-Sales Pulse.

The demand for MGNREGA jobs was low from August to October 2022, indicating an improvement in employment opportunities during that period. However, it hit a peak in June 2023, with around 4.5 million people demanding work. As of September 2023, only around 1.9 million people are demanding the job under the programme.

In Madhya Pradesh, the demand for MGNREGA work was the highest in June 2020, with 4.8 million people demanding work, and in June 2021, with 4.9 million people demanding jobs, respectively.

As of March this year, only one million people were looking for work. The numbers increased to 3.4 million people demanding work in May. As of September, 1.6 million people are demanding MGNREGA work in MP.

Demand for MGNREGA work in Chhattisgarh appears to be consistently high. It hit a peak of 4.7 million people demanding work in May 2020.

Data show that it has remained consistently high over the years, with 3.3 million people demanding work in February 2021 and 2.6 million people needing work in March 2023. It has, however, come down to only 218,659 people demanding work in September 2023.

In Mizoram, only 824 people demanded MGNREGA work in March 2021. Not more than 200 people have demanded work in the state during 2020 and 2023, data show.

The data for Telangana was not available.