Unemployment Rate Highest In 45 Years At 6.1% In 2017-18: NSSO Survey

Unemployment In India
Unemployment In India

The country’s unemployment rate was at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18, in the Periodic Labor Force Survey (PLFS) done by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), of the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, Which has been reported by the Business Standard newspaper.

The latest data on unemployment in India, which is yet to come in public domain, is the first comprehensive survey on employment conducted by a government agency after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization move in November 2016.

The unemployment rate was at its highest level since 1972-73 – a period from when the jobs data is comparable, the news agency quoted as saying.

The report further said that unemployment was higher in urban areas (7.8%) as compared to 5.3% in rural areas of the country, as mentioned in a report in Business Standard. The unemployment rate among youth reached a record high level in 2017-18 as compared to previous year and ‘much higher compared to that in the overall population,’ highlighted the report.


For educated rural females, the unemployment rate ranged between 9.7% to 15.2% between 2004 -05 to 2011-12, which rose to 17.3 per cent in 2017-18,” the report said.

In case of rural educated males, the joblessness rate surged to 10.5 per cent in 2017-18 from 3.5-4.4% between 2004-05 to 2011 -12.

For instance, the rate of joblessness among rural males in the age group of 15-29 years jumped more than three folds to 17.4 per cent in 2017-18 versus 5 per cent in 2011-12. In case of female youth in rural areas, unemployment rate stood at 13.6 per cent in 2017-18 as compared to 4.8 per cent in 2011-12.

The youth is moving away from the agriculture sector as it is becoming less remunerative and moving to urban areas. On the sectoral front, construction sector, which was one of the biggest employers in urban areas, witnessed a major turmoil in the sector,” the news agency quoted Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Care Ratings as saying.

In a similar trend, the labor force participating rate (LFPR) –the portion of the population working or seeking job -declined from 36.9 per cent in 2017-18 as against 39.5 per cent in 2011-12.

The NSSO report on job data has been at the centre of much controversy after two non-governmental members of the National Statistical Commission (NSC), PC Mohanan and JV Meenakshi, stepped down on Monday amid ‘disagreements’ with the government over the functioning of the commission. “We have resigned from the NSC. Over the months, we have been feeling that we were not been taken seriously and being sidelined by the government. Recent decisions of the NSC were not being implemented,” PC Mohanan told the leading daily.

The report was not released despite being vetted by the National Statistical Commission in December, allege two non-independent members who quit the data collating body on Tuesday. The government said today: “We have explained to the members that decision to release the report will be ours. We will decide when this should happen.” The report, revealed just a day before the government’s interim Budget, sets up a huge controversy just before the national election, due by May, with the opposition targeting the government on jobs data.

Points to be noted from the big story

  1. According to the report, which has not been made public but has been reported by Business Standard, the unemployment rate was at its highest level since 1972-73.
  2. The report says in 2011-12, the unemployment rate stood at 2.2 per cent and youth unemployment is at “astronomically high” levels of 13 to 27 per cent.
  3. Joblessness was higher in urban areas (7.8 per cent) than in the rural areas (5.3 per cent).
  4. More people are withdrawing from the workforce as the labour force participation rate is lower than in the previous years.
  5. The NSSO’s annual household survey of 2017-18 is the first after the November 2016 demonetization, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared an overnight ban on high-value notes.
  6. The report is at the core of a controversy over the quitting of two members of the National Statistical Commission, including its acting chairman PC Mohanan.
  7. PC Mohanan confirmed that one of the reasons why he quit was the delay in the release of the National Sample Survey Office’s Periodic Labour Force Survey report.
  8. PC Mohanan told Responsible Corporate that he and JV Meenakshi, the only non-government members of the statistics body, felt sidelined and “not taken seriously“.
  9. The government today said the “timing and verification has to be done“. It added: “We have our process and we have explained to the members.”
  10. It did agree that the data showed jobs had been reduced.

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