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Modi govt plans to bridge gaps in for ‘reliable’ jobs data by next year

The push to collect data could help Centre to formulate better policies to create jobs and offer skills training given that the informal sector accounts for roughly half of the GDP.

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Workers at a metal workshop in Guna, Madhya Pradesh | Representational image | Bloomberg
Workers at a metal workshop in Guna, Madhya Pradesh | Representational image | Bloomberg

New Delhi: India’s government plans to bridge the gaps in employment data by next year, with officials gathering details on the job status of about half a billion workers to improve policy making, according to people familiar with the matter.

For the in formal sector, which covers over 75% of the workforce, the government will derive data from surveys of migrant laborers and domestic workers as well as information submitted through a new online portal, the people said, asking not to be identified citing rules for speaking to media.

The push to collect data could help Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration formulate better policies to create jobs and offer skills training given that the informal sector accounts for roughly half of India’s GDP. This has become all the more crucial after the mass exodus of migrant workers due to a Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year led to a labor shortage in cities and affected the efficacy of government programs.

Economists have described India’s jobs data as outdated and inadequate, with the government coming up short in addressing the problem. Markets and academicians prefer to rely on the survey-based unemployment data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt.

A spokesman from the Ministry of Labour and Employment couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Close to a quarter of the workforce is employed in the formal sector, for which data is readily available through retirement plans and state-sponsored insurance.The government has also started polling companies to get more details on workers.

The bigger headache lies with drilling down the personal details of informal workers, including gender and age. To address this, the government launched an online portal known as e-Shram in August that makes workers eligible for insurance and other social security benefits in exchange for signing up with their personal details. So far, more than 100 million workers have signed up with 280 million left to go.

The government plans to make the social security benefits from this website transferable when a worker shifts to the formal sector or to a new location, the people said. Most workers will sign up for this by next year and details of the first-ever surveys capturing the distribution of domestic workers and socio-economic conditions of migrant workers will also be available by then, they said. –Bloomberg


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