The rural unemployment rate was 8.86 per cent in the week ending- August 16, which substantially improved to 6.32 per cent in the week ending-August 23.
Even as slowdown and job crisis engulf the Indian economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, the rural employment has seen a significant revival. The rural unemployment rate was 8.86 per cent in the week ending 16 August, which substantially fell to 6.32 per cent in the week ending August 23, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It is the lowest rural unemployment rate since February 2020. An extraordinary rush into the farming occupation and a sudden boom in MNREGA jobs can be attributed for a quick improvement in rural employment.
The estimates from the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey showed that there were 11.1 crore people who declared their occupation as farming in 2019-20, which rose to 11.7 crore in March 2020 and remained there in April as well. In the month of May, employment in farming inched up to 11.8 crore and further to 13 crore in June 2020. There is never any loss of employment in farming, CMIE said. People just migrate out of farming, mostly voluntarily, in search for better-paying employment but reverse migrate into farming when they lose non-farming jobs, it added.
This also explains why the lockdown had practically no impact on farm employment in April. Further, good rains and the consequent aggressive sowing absorbed a lot of the labour that was losing jobs in the non-farm sectors because of the lockdown. It was the first time that farm employment breached the 12 crore mark, and it did so by a huge margin.
Also, given a major reverse migration of labourers towards the villages, the government had strongly pushed the jobs under MGNREGA. This has generated 46 per cent more person-days of work during April-July. The scheme, which aimed at providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer for unskilled manual work, has also doubled the average income person to nearly Rs 1,000 in the first four months of this fiscal compared with Rs 509 in the last fiscal.