Delhi Saw a Sharp Rise in Joblessness Due to COVID-19; Women Worst Affected: Survey

Unemployment in Delhi rose by 17.4 percentage points in the period between January-February and October-November 2020.

New Delhi: A Delhi government survey has revealed that unemployment rose by 17.4 percentage points in the period between January-February and October-November 2020 due to the impact of lockdowns imposed to curtail the spread of Coronavirus. The overall joblessness rose from 11.1% to 28.5% while women’s unemployment rose more than men from 25.6% to 54.7% in the said period, according to reports.

Even among those employed, average incomes dropped significantly from Rs 16,511 to Rs 15,383 in the period concerned.

The findings are a result of the Delhi government-commissioned survey and had been carried out by the Centre for Market Research and Social Development. The survey, which is yet to be shared in the public domain, has a sample size of 44,226 individuals across all 11 revenue districts in Delhi.

Among the unemployed respondents, the survey has observed that 56% were jobless for over six months and continued to look for work. While 30% of them said they were unable to find work due to the economic slump, 29.3% cited “closure of business” as the reason for their joblessness.

The number of employed earning less than Rs 5,000 per month rose from 7% in January-February to 13% by October 2020. Those earning between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 dropped from 30% to 20% in the said period.

Also read: COVID-19 Crisis: India’s Unemployment Rate Soars to 27.11%, Says CMIE

Before the pandemic struck, female unemployment stood at 25.6%, and the corresponding figure for men was 8.7%. With the outbreak of COVID-19 necessitating lockdowns and largescale disruption to economic activity, the figures jumped to 54.7% for women, and 23.2 for men.

This translates into 83% of women being out of the labour force, while the same figure for men stood at 31.6%. Among the out-of-labour-force women, 16.6% are known to be graduates, 27.6% have cleared Class 12 and 23.8% have studied till Class X. As for men, 31.6% were out of the labour force in October 2020. The male labour force participation rate (LFPR) was 68.4%.

Age-wise break up shows that unemployment was highest in the 15-25 age bracket. In this category, the unemployment rate increased from 25.5% to 28.2% during the lockdown and from 8.8% to 27.4% among those aged above 60.

“The percentage of reduction in employment in various top sectors were: specialised construction activities (43%), Food and beverage service activities (31%), Education (30%), Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (25%), Services to buildings and landscape activities (25%), Information service activities (22%), Land transport and transport via pipelines (22%),” the Indian Express quoted from the report.

Also read: What Job Losses in the Formal Sector Tell Us About the Lockdown’s Impact on Economy

The report has underscored that it is important that the Delhi government take cognisance of the matter and come up with policies to address alarming levels of joblessness caused by the COVID-19 disruption.

“The present employment survey in Delhi to understand the unemployment and under-employment scenario in Delhi is going to be a very important tool to assist policy-making that responds to the ground-level economic situation in Delhi. Through this survey, the government of NCT of Delhi intended to get the full picture of unemployment in various sectors/occupations which are the most prevalent in the economy, the extent of under-employment as well as citizen feedback on some potential policy responses that the government of NCT of Delhi may want to initiate. Special focus is given to the consequences of job loss in various economic activities/ industries after the outbreak of Covid-19 and consequent lockdown,” the Hindustan Times quoted from the report.

Earlier this month, on March 9, the Delhi government announced the launch of ‘Saheli Samanvay Kendra’ to empower and address joblessness among women. Under the new scheme, 500 Anganwadi hubs will be set up for incubating individual start-ups and to promote self-help groups, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said. The decision was based on the above survey.

The Delhi government set aside Rs4,750 crore for the department of social welfare, women and child development and welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.