NEW DELHI: The unemployment rate in urban areas remained in double digits for the third consecutive quarter at 10.3% during October-December, higher than 7.8% a year ago, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic weighed on jobs, official data showed.
It has, however, slowed down significantly from the 20.8% estimated during April-June last year, when the impact of the national lockdown was at its peak, and 13.2% in the July-September quarter.
The pandemic had led to huge job losses during the lockdown last year. Since the opening up of the economy after the second wave early this year, the jobs situation has shown some improvement.
“The latest PLFS (Periodic Labour Force Survey) for Q3FY21 reveals a steady improvement in the labour market, with the unemployment rate slowing to 10.3% according to the current weekly status. This is more than half of Q1FY21 unemployment rate when the economy was in complete lockdown,” said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic advisor at State Bank of India.
“The labour force participation rate, however, increased only marginally and still remains a matter of concern,” he added.
The unemployment rate for females was higher at 13.1% during the October-December quarter compared to 9.5% for males. The unemployment rate during the year-ago quarter was 9.8% for females and 7.3% for males, according to the PLFS quarterly bulletin released by the National Statistical Office (NSO). Youth unemployment rate (15-29 years) during the three months to December was at 24.9%, lower than 27.7% in the previous quarter and higher than 19.2% a year ago.
Jammu & Kashmir had the highest unemployment rate of 17.8% during the period, followed by Kerala at 16.7% and Jharkhand at 16%. Gujarat had the lowest unemployment rate among states at 4%, slower than 4.5% in the previous quarter. Twelve states recorded double-digit unemployment rates during this period, compared with 22 states in the April-June quarter of 2020. Eight states had recorded double-digit unemployment in the October-December quarter of 2019-20.
The finance ministry has recently asked the statistics ministry to put in place a quarterly employment data mechanism, which should be released with a month’s lag to help in policymaking. Currently, the quarterly jobs data comes with a lag of around 45 days under the PLFS. It was started in 2017 to give a better picture of the employment scenario. But this, too, is considered inadequate as the time lag creates roadblocks.
The PLFS was launched by the NSO to estimate the employment and unemployment indicators (worker-population ratio, labour force participation rate and unemployment rate) in the short-time interval of three months for urban areas only in the current weekly status. Under CWS, a person is considered as unemployed in a week if he/she did not work even for one hour on any day during the reference week, but sought or was available for work at least for one hour on any day during the reference week, according to the PLFS. The annual PLFS report covers both rural and urban areas whereas the quarterly bulletin is for urban centres.