The deceleration in wage growth threatens to add to rural distress and slow consumption
The pace of rural wage growth, both for agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, slowed down in November 2017 on year-on-year basis for most of the 25 occupations, data compiled by the labour bureau, a wing under the ministry of labour and employment, showed. Though it is early to make conclusions, the deceleration in wage growth threatens to add to rural distress and slow consumption. In the agricultural sector, the pace of wage growth for sowing activities for men fell to 4.8% in November 2017 from 6.1% in November 2016, in sync with the decline in acreages under different rabi crops. As on January 12, 2017, the planting area under rabi crops fell to 609.51 lakh hectares from 615.09 lakh hectres in the year-ago period. Rabi sowing season starts from October 1. In November 2017, a woman got an average of Rs 225.22 a day for sowing activities, just 2.97% higher than her daily wage in November 2016 while the annual wage growth from the previous year was 8.9%. The declining trend in wage growth could also be seen in the horticulture sector. Compared to 6.9% growth in wages in November 2016 over the same month last year, wages grew by 5.1% in November 2017.
At Rs 266.08 a day, horticulture workers’ average wages remained largely stagnant for the past four months. Daily wages contracted the most for ‘general agricultural labourers’ which include watering and irrigation workers. Compared to a growth of 7.4% in November 2016 over the same month last year, the rate of growth for their average daily earnings came down to 4.9% in November, 2017. While there had been instances of increases in daily wages for most of the agricultural occupations over the months, fishermen who go to the deep sea saw their wages contracting from Rs 332 a day in August, 2017 to Rs 318.33 in November, 2017.
The labour bureau compiles the daily wage rate data for both agricultural and non-agricultural occupations based on data collected by the field division of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) from a fixed set of 600 sample villages in 20 states. It captures data for 25 occupations — 12 agricultural and 13 non-agricultural sectors.