Govt says NSSO report doesn’t present accurate comparative picture, insists Indian economy is still creating jobs under NDA.
New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government Thursday said that the National Sample Survey Office report showing a 45-year high unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent is still a ‘draft report’, and contended that the Indian economy is still creating jobs under the NDA.
This is the same stance the government adopted when GDP back-series data was released by a sub-committee of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) last year.
Business Standard Thursday reported that the NSSO survey on employment and unemployment figures for 2017-18 showed high levels of joblessness in both urban and rural areas, in the aftermath of the Modi government’s decision to demonetise high value currency notes.
The NSSO report, based on periodic labour force surveys, was withheld from release by the government despite the NSC vetting the report and giving its go-ahead.
The NSC has the final say over NSSO methodologies and reports, and its two independent members, including acting chairman P.C. Mohanan, quit in protest over the government’s move earlier this week.
NITI Aayog’s defence
The government did not confirm the contents of the NSSO report but said it felt that the report doesn’t present an accurate comparative picture.
Addressing a press conference, NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar said it is not possible that India is not creating jobs when it is growing at a nominal rate of 11-12 per cent.
Kumar said the government is waiting to process the quarterly data till December 2018 for better comparative analysis.
The report will be released by March, he added.
Five-year comparisons incorrect
Periodic labour force surveys were launched in April 2017, aimed at providing reliable job level data. They were supposed to provide annual estimates for both rural and urban areas for major employment parameters.
Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, pointed out that earlier, employment analysis was done every five years.
“To be able to capture if there was an increase or decrease, we need to compare quarter-by-quarter data. Comparing the employment numbers for 2017-18 with 2011-12 numbers may not be correct,” he said, adding that the methodology and sample sizes were different.
Kant added that India is creating enough jobs for new entrants but may not be creating enough good quality jobs.
Similarities to GDP back-series data
Last year, the government had adopted a similar tone and completely disregarded a report of a sub-committee of the NSC headed by N.R. Bhanumurthy, a professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, saying the methodology for calculation of the back-series had not been finalised.
The commission’s back-series calculation showed that the Indian economy grew at a much faster pace under Manmohan Singh’s UPA government compared to Modi’s NDA, and that it registered double-digit growth in two years — 10.23 per cent in 2007-08 and 10.78 per cent in 2010-11.
A couple of months later, the GDP back-series numbers were released through the NITI Aayog, which drastically reduced the UPA’s growth numbers.
The data showed that the Indian economy grew at an average of only 6.67 per cent in the nine years through 31 March 2014 (UPA tenure), slower than the 7.35 per cent achieved in the four years through 31 March 2018 (NDA tenure). It also showed that the Indian economy never grew in double digits.
The sanctity of the data was questioned by economists, as real GDP growth rates were drastically altered.