Demand for jobs under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) from both households as well as individuals fell to the lowest level in the current fiscal in July, according to provisional figures released by the government.
While the decline may signal improved economic activity, the pick-up in kharif sowing, bolstered by above-normal rains across the country, might have contributed to it, experts said.
On average, 29.64 days of work have been provided to each household in the current fiscal so far compared with 50.07 days of work in the whole of FY22, 51.52 days in FY21 and 48.4 days in FY20.
MG-NREGS is a demand-driven wage employment programme which provides livelihood security to rural households by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. It provides fallback options for a livelihood when no better employment opportunity is available.
In July this year, the demand for work under the rural employment guarantee scheme was lower than in the same month of the previous two fiscal years, but remained higher than in July 2019, suggesting the pandemic woes are not yet over for the country’s rural areas.
Official data shows demand for jobs in July fell by 36% from households and by 42% from individuals over June. A little over 20 million households demanded work in July this year compared with 32 million on June, 31 million in May and 23 million in April. Similarly, compared with around 25 million in July this year, demand for work from individuals was nearly 33 million in April, 44 million in May and 43 million in June.
These are provisional figures and may undergo significant upward revision.
Person days of work generation in the current year were higher in May and June at around 435 million and 422 million respectively compared with 286 million in April. The number stood at 132 million in June, as shown in the MG-NREGS dashboard on July 31. So far, 1,275 million person days of work have been generated in the scheme in the current fiscal in which a total of Rs 73,000 crore has been allocated in the Budget.