New Delhi: While the latest annual Periodic Labour Force Survey numbers show an optimistic picture of the unemployment situation in India, which dropped to a five-year low since 2018, there are some figures that are still a cause for concern.
The PLFS survey showed that the unemployment rate in 2021-22 was recorded at 4.1%, lower than the 5.8% witnessed in 2018-19.
However, according to Business Standard, there has been an increase in the share of agriculture in overall employment. It was 42.5% in 2018-19, which rose to 45.5% in 2021-22. People move to farming when no jobs are available in the markets. The numbers also show that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to bruise a section of the country’s population.
Himanshu, an associate professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Hindustan Times, “While lack of fresh census statistics have made accurate rural-urban classification more difficult, a rise in share of rural population and labour force does suggest that some of the reverse migration has not been corrected.” The newspaper reported that the share of rural population, as per the PLFS survey, and the share of unpaid self-employed in rural areas has continued to increase even in the 2021-22 round.
Interestingly, the Indian Express reported that between 2004-05 and 2011-12, the workforce engaged in farming registered the biggest decline from 58.5% to 48.9%. Meanwhile, the share of the labour force employed in manufacturing peaked at 12.6% in 2011-12, the report said.
On the contrary, the share of agriculture in employment has been rising after 2018, the newspaper reported. It said that the structural transformation has stalled because employment in the agriculture sector is not falling fast enough. This means that people are not moving from farming to manufacturing jobs.
The share of manufacturing in employment was at 11.6% in 2021-22, lower than the 12.1% seen in 2018-19, Business Standard reported. The Indian Express elaborated on this point saying that most of the jobs outside agriculture are available in the construction sector. Some of them are even low-paid services. Both have overtaken manufacturing.
Five years ago, manufacturing was the second-largest employer after agriculture, but now it has been replaced by the construction sector and is on the fourth position.
Additionally, the share of self-employed persons in 2021-22 has increased to 55.8% as compared to 52.1% in 2018-19. The share of those getting a regular wage or salary has dropped to 21.5% from 23.8% in the same period, the business daily reported.
The daily further reported that the dependency ratio (percentage of working-age population) has slightly increased, suggesting more pressure on the employed persons amid the recent economic turmoil.