New Delhi: After months of denial, the Narendra Modi government formally released the jobs data Friday that showed India’s unemployment rate had hit a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18.
The data, which was slated to be released in December after the report was vetted by the National Statistical Commission, was withheld by the poll-bound NDA government.
The government had then defended the decision saying that the report was only a draft but now has released the same report within a day of assuming charge.
The Modi government’s decision to demonetise high-value currency in November 2016 and the resultant cash shortage saw the closure of many small-scale units leading to a sharp rise in unemployment.
Although the government then announced many schemes to facilitate funding for entrepreneurs and enabling skill development among the youth, its first term was unable to generate formal employment. The new government is expected to announce steps to promote labour-intensive manufacturing in the upcoming budget.
Unemployment high in the 15-29 age group
The annual report of the periodic labour force survey for the period between July 2017 and June 2018 shows that the unemployment rate for the age group of 15-29 years was at 17.8 per cent for all of India and nearly the same for men and women. This number reflects one of the biggest challenges for the Modi government — to provide employment to India’s aspirational youth who voted him back to power with a resounding majority.
The data further showed that in the 15-29 age group, in the urban areas, more than 27 per cent of the women and nearly 19 per cent of the men who were looking for employment were unemployed. This was slightly lower in rural areas where nearly 14 per cent of women and 17 per cent of males were unemployed.
The report further pointed out that unemployment rates for all age groups put together was at 5.8 per cent among males and 3.8 per cent among females in rural areas. These rates were higher in urban areas where it was 7.1 per cent among males and 10.8 per cent among females.
The survey covered more than one lakh households with nearly 4.3 lakh people, a majority of them in rural areas forming a part of the survey.
The decision to withhold the report by the government had seen the chairman of the National Statistical Commission P.C. Mohanan and another independent member resign in protest. This was followed by a letter by more than 100 economists and social scientists who had accused the Modi government of withholding or altering unfavourable economic data.