The dismal urban jobs scenario remained unabated even in November with employment in cities and towns falling by 0.9 million even as it increased in rural areas by 2.3 million over October level.
The country’s overall unemployment rate declined to 7% in November from 7.8% in October and the employment rate rose from 37.28% to 37.34%. India had a total of 400.8 million employment in October which rose to 402.1 million in November.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), during 2016-17 through 2018-19, urban employment accounted for 32% of total employment in India. In 2019-20, the year just before the pandemic struck, the share of urban employment dropped to 31.6%. In 2020-21, it fell to 31.3%. And, in November 2021, its share fell further to 31.2%.
“In the first half of 2021- 22, the share of urban employment was down to 31%. There was an improvement in October to 31.5%, but the rate has slid back to 31.2% in November 2021 indicating continuing weakness in urban jobs,” Mahesh Vyas, MD and CEO, CMIE, said recently.
Urban jobs arguably provide better wages and have a greater share of what are called the organised sectors. Their decline implies a decline in the overall quality of jobs in India, Vyas said.
Vyas said both salaried jobs and the count of entrepreneurs fell in November. Salaried jobs fell by 6.8 million. Entrepreneurs declined by 3.5 million. These were compensated by an 11.2 million rise in employment among daily-wage labourers and small traders. “This again points to a deterioration in the quality of employment. Salaried jobs, at 77.2 million in November 2021, were 9.7% lower than in November 2019,” Vyas said.
The latest available results of the quarterly Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), conducted by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI), also showed that unemployment rate in urban India was 9.4% in January-March 2021 quarter, higher than 9.1% prevailed in the year-ago quarter, which immediately preceded the period when the first Covid wave hit the country.
The PLFS data also showed that 23% of urban youth in the 15-29 years age group remained unemployed in the January-March period of the current year, as against 21.1% in the year-ago quarter.