Recognising that lack of timely and periodic jobs data hurting policy-making in India, a task force headed by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya has reccommended a set of new surveys, including a comprehensive household survey, to bring out annual national jobs data as well as quarterly urban employment estimates.
Besides the household survey, the panel recommended an annual enterprise survey using goods and services tax network (GSTN) as the sample frame, an annual survey of enterprises excluded from the GSTN database, use of administrative data-sets such as employee provident fund organisation (EPFO) and data from government schemes. These data would compliment the household survey data.
It also made four additional recommendations: Use of an Universal Enterprise and Establishment Numbers, preferably GSTN; creatation of a central server for all government data; investment in modernising and revamping the statistical system and elimination of duplication in surveys and harmonization of reports.
The draft report on employment surveys was put in the public domain on Thursday for public comments until July 23.
The panel also recommended that at least for the purpose of counting, formal workers would deemed to be those who are enrolled in provident funds, medical insurance or pension schemes and workers subjected to tax deduction at source.
For the new household survey, the NSSO has started an exercise named the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) that will provide annual estimates of labour force, employment, unemployment, industry structure of workforce, nature of employment and wages nationally and regionally on an annual basis. The survey will also generate the estimates for urban areas on a quarterly basis. Households in urban areas will be visited about four times, constituting a rolling panel for 3 quarters. This will facilitate the tracking of seasonal employment and changes in employment characteristics over time. The fieldwork for this survey is already underway, having commenced on April 1, 2017. The Task Force is of the view that this survey will go a long way towards fulfilling the current vacuum in the availability of information relating to India’s labour markets. The PLFS replaces the NSSO’s Employment-Unemployment quinquennial surveys.
The panel recommended a new time-use survey at three-year intervals to collect information on how individuals allocate their time over a specified time period, usually a day or a week. It also recommended enhanced use of technology in data collection.
After reports of job losses in several sectors including IT, some critics have panned the GDP growth of 7.1% in 2016-17 and 8% in 2015-16. This premise was largely based on the quarterly employment survey (QES) of the Labour Bureau. The QES sample is not representative of all sectors and only covers 3 crore workforce on eight sectors, but total work force in India including the farm sector is about 47 crore.