Narendra Modi’s employment woes: How Aadhaar-based headcount can help

By: | Published: March 26, 2018 4:51 AM

In order to ensure that the unemployed are not forced to beg or take up crime and other unsocial activities, the US had, as early as in 1935, passed the Social Security Act, under which the Unemployment Insurance programme was set up and Social Security numbers issued to each individual.

narendra modi, employment, India employment news, aadhaar card, population surveyThe recent hold up of ‘Locals’, the economic lifeline of Mumbai, reportedly by some students, has once again highlighted the urgent need for job creation, a priority mission in which the government has not been able to make much headway so far. (PTI)

The recent hold up of ‘Locals’, the economic lifeline of Mumbai, reportedly by some students, has once again highlighted the urgent need for job creation, a priority mission in which the government has not been able to make much headway so far.
Unemployed youth are virtual time bombs, and usually explode in the form of riots or civil disturbance, sometimes organised by groups with a political agenda. They are also easy target for criminal organisations who find in them persons willing to do anything for cash, including murder. In order to ensure that the unemployed are not forced to beg or take up crime and other unsocial activities, the US had, as early as in 1935, passed the Social Security Act, under which the Unemployment Insurance programme was set up and Social Security numbers issued to each individual.

Two decades earlier, in 1915, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had started carrying out Current Employment Statistics surveys, which provided information about the state of the economy. It was envisioned as an employment index for industries such as hosiery, boots and shoes, cotton goods and cotton finishing, etc. BLS carries out a Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which collates both the population list and the primary source of employment data, and manages to cover about 97% of the population. The primary statistics derived from this survey are monthly estimates of employment, hours, and earnings for the entire nation, states and major metropolitan areas. Preliminary National Estimates for a given month are typically released on the third Friday after the conclusion of the reference period. This includes data derived from a separate survey of households and the Current Population Survey.

The methodology for collecting such a voluminous information is, in itself, interesting. New samples are solicited by computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). After the initial period of five months, many sample units are transferred to one of less costly reporting methods that are self-initiated by the respondent. In order to encourage businesses to voluntarily report, it offers them a choice of reporting modes to suit their individual preference and elicit maximum response. The Current Employment Statistics is based on a survey of 147,000 businesses and government agencies representing 634,000 work sites throughout the US. Each month, BLS collects data on employment, payroll and paid hours from a sample of establishments.

Reportedly, the US economy gained 148,000 jobs in December 2017, against 150,000 new jobs needed each month to keep expanding. Industries that gained jobs were about 30,000 in construction, 29,200 in healthcare, in spite of uncertainty over Donald Trump’s healthcare plan. Leisure and hospitality added 29,000 jobs, while manufacturing gained 21,000 as a weak dollar helped exports. Temporary help services gained 7,000 jobs, while information and financial services added 7,000 and 6,000 jobs, respectively.

In India, perhaps the only reliable source of statistics on unemployment data is the annual Economic Survey, which is based on data from labour ministry, with no sector-wise details of the three major sectors, i.e. agriculture (46% of the workforce), manufacturing (22%) and services (32%). A headcount based on Aadhaar could perhaps help clearly identify those in the labour force who are gainfully employed and who are jobless, at least in urban areas where most are now computer literate and could log into a government portal specifically designed for this.

Despite Narendra Modi’s promise at a rally in 2013 in Agra to create a crore new jobs every year, and various government initiatives such as Make-in-India, Skill India and Start-up India, the progress in this vital sphere has been rather tardy. In fact, the unemployment rate of 4.9% in 2013-14 rose to 5% in 2015-16. Demonetisation and the I-T Department’s war against black money seem to have dampened the enthusiasm of even the genuine investors and PM Modi has to pull out all the stops in order to get the economy going with millions of new jobs created in time for his foray into the elections of 2019.

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