Youth Unemployment on Rise, Attributed Largely to Rural Joblessness: CMIE

In the October-December 2023 quarter, joblessness among those in the age group of 20 to 24 grew to 44.49%, and it stood at 14.33% for the age group of 25-29, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy report said.

New Delhi: The latest data available from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has indicated that youth unemployment (20-34 age group) has been on the rise.

In the October-December 2023 quarter, joblessness among those in the age group of 20 to 24 grew to 44.49% from 43.65% in the previous quarter of July to September 2023. On the other hand, it stood at 14.33% for the age group of 25-29 compared to 13.35% in the July-September quarter. The 14.33% joblessness rate for the 25-29 age group was 14-quarter high.

In a similar trend, the joblessness rate for the 30-34 age group stood at a 10-quarter high of 2.49% as against 2.06% in the previous quarter.

According to CMIE, the rise in unemployment is largely attributed to rural unemployment as against urban joblessness. Among the rural unemployed, it rose to the highest among those in the 20-24 age group (43.79%) followed by 13.06% in the 25-29 age group and 2.24% in the 30-34 age group.

In contrast, the urban unemployment rate showed a sign of improvement, especially in the age brackets 20-24 and 30-34 years in Q3 FY24 as compared to Q2. For the 20-24 age group, it came down from 47.61% to 45.98%, and the same number for the age group 30-34 reduced from 3.29% to 3.04%. However, the same figure went up from 15.61% to 16.54% in the 25-29 age group.

The data from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) also substantiates the findings on rural unemployment by CMIE. MGNREGA is the largest provider of employment in rural India. According to the official figures, the work demanded by households in Q3FY24 was up by 1.3% year-on-year; but this was lower than the 15.1% increase recorded in Q2.

According to the Financial Express, some economists have raised concerns about the reliability of CMIE data, citing the “pronounced volatility in monthly figures”. However, the CMIE data still holds significance given that “it remains the sole source offering an immediate snapshot of the unemployment situation in the country”.

“The unemployment rate as provided by CMIE keeps varying month on month which will be the case as the concept is amorphous given that a large part of the employment is in the informal sector where there may be no permanent employment,” Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, Bank of Baroda, told the newspaper.