India: Unemployment at 45-week high

In a recent report given by Business Standard, it has been mentioned that the unemployment rate in the country in 2017-18 is at a 45-year high. The survey report which was not let open to the public by the ruling government has now come out as a big blow to the hopes of the Bharatiya Janata Party just months ahead of the General Elections 2019 which are slated to be held in May this year.

The delay has led to a growing political controversy as the acting Chairman along with another member of the organization which had seen the data for jobs gave in their resignation stating that the report was slated to be released in December was delayed due to meddling by other political agencies. The survey which shows that the unemployment rate stands at 6.1 percent, a figure which is highest since 1972-73, was conducted by National Sample Survey Organisation from July 2017- June 2018. The reasons for the dismal figure in 1972-73 were quite apparent as the country was grappling with global oil shocks and dealing with the aftermath of the war with Pakistan. The unemployment rate at that time was as low as 5.18 percent.

The leader of the Congress Party, the primary opposition party, Mr. Rahul Gandhi has called the report as a ‘national disaster.’ He is said to have covered the lead taken by the Prime Minister and is expected to give a tough fight to the PM in the upcoming elections.

The opposition is leaving no chance to corner the government on this critical issue and time. They are stating that all the claims by the government about the sound and progressive economic success of the country have been increasingly empty. The fastest growth which has been posted by Indian economy to the tune of 7 percent which was faster than most major economies of the world, was majorly uneven and was not able to generate as many jobs. The statistics have thus proven that the highly ambitious project of PM Modi under the banner of Make-in-India which was designed to lift the percent of domestic manufacturing to 25 percent from 17 percent and hence create employment opportunities for about 1.2 million youth of the country, has miserably failed.

The report which has surfaced one month after its scheduled release has shown a stunning level of joblessness among the youth. It has stated that urban males around 18.7 percent in the age group of 15-29 don’t have jobs and around 27.2 percent females of the same age group in urban areas are without work. To make matters worse, there has been a sharp decline seen in the labor force participation rate which is the part of the population which is either already in jobs or are seeking work. The latter has also fallen to 36.9 percent in the current year of 2017-18 from the figure of 39.5 percent in 2011-12. The same rate for the US is 63.1 percent in December.

In a separate statement, the NITI Aayog has stated that the government requires more quarterly data for publishing any kind of comparable reports. Latter was however refuted by P.C. Mohanan, who had recently tendered his resignation from the post of the Head of the National Statistical Commission, which is a government-funded organization. The report is the first standalone statement of the employment situation in India ever since the Modi government had surprised the whole country by his unexpected decision of demonetization. The introduction of the GST also hit the job market in July of 2017.

The report will make it difficult for the ruling government to retain the majority in the Parliament in the upcoming elections with many surveys already suggesting that Modi government faces a tough challenge from the Congress party.

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