New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, had the highest unemployment rate in urban areas, at nearly 16 per cent in the quarter ended December 2018, followed by Odisha, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar, according to data compiled by the National Statistical Office (NSO).
The all-India urban unemployment rate was at 9.9 per cent during the quarter as against 9.7 per cent in the preceding quarter and 9.8 per cent in the quarter ended June.
The data further showed that the unemployment rates were substantially higher for the young in the 15-29 age group across states, highlighting the challenge for the Narendra Modi government to appease the aspirations of a young and more educated India.
Further, the unemployment rate was higher for women across age groups when compared to men — 12.3 per cent as against 9.2 per cent for men.
The fine print
The periodic labour force survey released by the government last week for the quarter October-December 2018 showed that the unemployment rate for all age groups in urban areas was at 15.8 per cent for Uttar Pradesh, 14.2 per cent in Odisha, 13.6 per cent in Uttarakhand, 13.5 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir and 13.4 per cent in Bihar.
The unemployment rate in these states was substantially higher than that recorded in the July-September quarter.
In comparison, states such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Assam, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal had the lowest unemployment rates in the quarter. Gujarat’s unemployment rate was the least at 4.5 per cent followed by Karnataka at 5.9 per cent, Assam at 6 per cent, Chhattisgarh at 7.8 per cent and West Bengal at 8 per cent.
The unemployment rate was calculated using the current weekly activity status of a person or the activity status of a person seven days preceding the date of the survey. A person is classified as unemployed if they have not worked for even one hour during the week despite seeking work.
Unemployment among youth
Further, the data showed that unemployment among the youth remains a major economic and social challenge. The all-India unemployment rate for people in urban areas in the 15-29 age category was 23.7 per cent in the December quarter, as against 23.1 per cent in the September quarter and 22.9 per cent in the June quarter.
It was the highest in Bihar where 40.9 per cent of the young were unemployed, followed by Kerala at 37 per cent and Odisha at 35.7 per cent.
Lekha Chakraborty, professor at the New Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, said the unemployment numbers are indicative of the fact that there are no jobs in the market and attributed it to a mainly supply-side problem.
On the higher unemployment numbers for women, she said that, partly, this could be attributed to social norms.
“The government may provide employment but women have a stress on time as they have to attend to household chores and look after children and may not be able to enter the workforce,” she said.