NSSO Data Puts Unemployment at 45-Year High in 2017-18: Report

This data was collected by the NSSO between July 2017 and June 2018 – and is the first official employment survey after demonetisation.

The story has been updated with responses from NITI Aayog.


New Delhi: In 2017-18, the country’s unemployment rate stood at a 45-year high of 6.1%, Business Standard has quoted the National Sample Survey Office’s periodic labour force survey (PLFS) as saying.

This report is one of the reasons why two expert members – including the acting chairman – of the National Statistical Commission resigned on Monday, as the government had not released the numbers despite the commission’s approval.

This data was collected by the NSSO between July 2017 and June 2018 – and is the first official survey that at the country’s employment situation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of high-value currency notes in November 2016.

According to Business Standard, the report states that unemployment was last this high in 1972-73. To compare, the unemployment rate in the country had gone down to 2.2% in 2011-12, according to NSSO data.

Youth unemployment was much higher in 2017-18 than in previous years, according to the government report, and “much higher compared to that in the overall population”.

Also read: Upset Over Job Data Picture, BJP MPs Block M.M. Joshi-Led Panel Report on GDP Growth

Joblessness for rural male youth (aged 15-29) went from 5% in 2011-12 to 17.4% in 2017-18. For rural women in the same age group, joblessness went from 4.8% in 2011-12 to 13.6% in 2017-18, according to Business Standard.

The same was true for educated people: “For educated rural females, the unemployment rate ranged from 9.7 per cent to 15.2 per cent during 2004-05 to 2011-12 which rose to 17.3 per cent in 2017-18,” the newspaper quoted the NSSO report as saying.

The labour force participation rate (number of people of working age actively seeking jobs) also went down, according to the report. The LFPR, which has been decreasing from 2004-05 went from 39.5% in 2011-12 to 36.9% in 2017-18.

At a press conference in New Delhi, NITI Aayog VC Dr Rajiv Kumar claimed that confusion was being created by leaking a draft report and that it’s “not correct” to compare it to the 2011-12 NSSO data. Both CEO Amitabh Kant and Kumar stressed that the methodology of the 2011-12 data was ‘very different’ from the PLFS and hence not comparable.

“We have just received data for the July-September 2018 and October-December 2018 quarters which is still being processed,” Kumar said, adding that changing trends in employment (delta) can only be ascertained after the final data for the six quarters is out. “The data from July-October 2017 can only be compared to data from July-October 2018,” he added.

Citing favourable figures from various reports (McKinsey, EPFO data, etc.,) they rubbished claims of rising unemployment and claimed that at least 7 to 7.7 million jobs were being created yearly. “Various analysis shows that the country needs around 7 million jobs every year, we are creating enough for new entrants, but the challenge is to generate more employment for those exiting low-productivity jobs like agriculture,” Kant said.

On being asked why the Niti Aayog was holding a press conference instead of the National Statistical Commission, Kumar said that the chief statistician Pravin Srivastava could not be present as he was in Lucknow.

Earlier, surveys conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy had said that 1.5 million jobs were lost just in the first four months of 2017 – immediately after demonetisation.