Unemployment Data Before Interim Budget Puts Government Under Pressure

News Frontliner Web Desk, 31 January 2019: Just a day before the interim budget, political fraternity across the country is abuzz with the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) Periodic Labour Force Survey report revealing that the unemployment rate in India recorded at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-’18.

Two non-independent members who quit the data collating body on Tuesday disclosed, that though the report was vetted by the National Statistical Commission in December, the government didn’t made the fearing opposition barbs on the issue of unemployment.

The report, which was first accessed by the Business Standard newspaper, shows that the unemployment rate in 2017-’18 has been at its highest level since 1972-’73. The NSSO’s annual household survey of 2017-18 is the first full year survey after the November 2016 demonetisation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to survey, the rate of unemployment among men in rural areas between the ages of 15 to 29 years jumped to 17.4 per cent in 2017-2018 compared to 5 per cent in 2011-2012.

Women unemployment in rural areas rose to 13.6 per cent in 2017-2018 from 4.8 per cent in 2011-2012.

Youth unemployment rate in urban areas was higher than in rural areas; also, for men the rate was at 18.7 per cent while for women it was at 27.2 per cent in 2017-2018.

In rural areas, unemployment rate among educated women was at 17.3 per cent in 2017-2018 compared to 9.7 per cent to 15.2 per cent during 2004-2005 to 2011-2012.

In rural areas, unemployment rate among men rose to 10.5 per cent in 2017-2018 from 3.5 per cent to 4.4 per cent during 2004-2005 to 2011-2012.

The labour force participation rate, which is the proportion of population working or seeking jobs, declined from 39.5per cent in 2011-2012 to 36.9 per cent in 2017-2018.

The issue is at the core of a controversy after the quitting of two members of the National Statistical Commission, including its acting chairman PC Mohanan who while speaking to NDTV, said that he and JV Meenakshi, the only non-government members of the statistics body, felt sidelined and “not taken seriously.” Delay in the release of the National Sample Survey Office’s Periodic Labour Force Survey report is the reason as to why he along with Meenakshi quit the job.

The government in an effort to clarify its position said, that the delay was primarily due to the time needed for “processing” the quarterly data and the report would be released after that. Government also said the two members who quit their positions had never voiced their concern in the past few months.

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