Wages of workers in various sectors have seen a steady growth but monthly earnings continued to be low with a significant segment of the workforce earning less than Rs 10,000 a month, a report by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment (CSE) said Tuesday. The report titled ‘State of Working India 2018’ noted that most sectors, except agriculture, have reported an increase in real wages by 3 per cent or more annually. The report is based on data from multiple sources, including from government reports and NSS, up to 2015-16.
The aim of this initiative is to develop better public understanding and help guide policy measures to achieve universal employment with regular incomes for all, Amit Basole, lead author of the report, said. The report said wages, adjusted for inflation, grew at 2 per cent per annum for organised manufacturing, 4 per cent for unorganised manufacturing, and 5 per cent for unorganised services between 2010 and 2015.
“But 82 per cent of male and 92 per cent of female workers earn less than Rs 10,000 a month … This suggests that a large majority of Indians are not being paid what may be termed a living wage…Even in the organised manufacturing sector, 90 per cent of the industries pay wages below the Central Pay Commission (CPC) minimum,” it said.
Pointing out that labour productivity in organised manufacturing increased by six times over the past three decades, it said the wages increased by only 1.5 times. The report also stated that a 10 per cent increase in GDP now results in less than one per cent increase in employment. In the 1970s and 1980s, when GDP growth was around 3-4 per cent, employment growth was around 2 per cent per annum. Comparatively, GDP growth has accelerated to 7 per cent in the 2000s but employment growth has slowed to 1 per cent or even less.
It said the high rate of “open unemployment”, which is now over 5 per cent overall, and a much higher 16 per cent for youth and the higher educated. Another challenge in the sector is the gender disparity seen in terms of wages. Women, the report said, earn between 35 and 85 per cent of men’s earnings, depending on the type of work and the level of education of the worker. However, disparities have reduced over time, it added.
The report proposed that the government develop a National Employment Policy in close collaboration with the states that include policies like wage subsidies and incentives for skilling workers. Also, there is a strong case for creating a Universal Basic Services (UBS) programme that invests in education, health, housing, and public transport and safety to create jobs, human capital, and public goods, it said.