Unemployment Rate At 45-Year High, Women Worst Hit: NSSO Data

The unemployment rate in India for the year 2017-18 is at a 45-year high, at 6.1%, according to a report by Business Standard, which quotes data from National Sample Survey Office’s periodic labour force survey (PLFS). This data was collected by the NSSO between July 2017 and June 2018 and the stats clearly indicate that millennials are facing a major job crisis this year. It was much higher in 2017-18 than in previous years, according to the government report, and “much higher compared to that in the overall population.” These figures are comparable with available stats from 1972-73.


  • Unemployment for rural women, aged 15-29, rose from 4.8% in 2011-12 to 13.6% in 2017-18, according to the Business Standard report.
  • For educated rural females, the unemployment rate ranged from 9.7 per cent to 15.2 per cent during 2004-05 to 2011-12 which rose to 17.3 per cent in 2017-18.

Earlier, surveys conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) concluded that in the country 1.5 million jobs were lost just in the first four months of 2017 – immediately after demonetization. The total number of jobs lost in 2018 was a whopping 11 million.

One of the major findings of the CMIE report is that women suffered the most from this job crisis. About 8.8 million women lost their jobs in comparison to only 2.2 million men.

The real matter is when the ratio of female employees to male employees is being compared – Salaried employees who lost their jobs in 2018 account for 3.7 million people and it hugely impacted uneducated people, wage labourers, agricultural labourers and small traders. Wage labourers, agricultural labourers and small traders also suffered a huge blow in the aftermath of demonetization.

Even though the govt scheme should have led to higher female labour force participation rates this, unfortunately, has not been the case, as per the report.

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Key Findings:

  • According to the CMIE report, Rural women lost 6.5 million jobs while urban women lost only 2.3 million jobs.
  • It goes differently for men as urban men actually gained 5,00,000 jobs while the rural men lost 2.3 million jobs.

“So, the breakdown of employment statistics by the various attributes of respondents discussed above tells us that a person who lost the job in 2018 mostly fits a profile like — is a woman, particularly a woman in rural India, is uneducated and is a wage labourer or a farm labourer or is a small-scale trader and is under 40 years or more than 60 years,” the report said.

“India’s unemployment rate shot up to 7.4 per cent in December 2018. This is the highest unemployment rate we’ve seen in 15 months. The rate has increased sharply from the 6.6 per cent clocked in November,” the report further added.

Reacting to the latest report, Meeta Sengupta who is an educationist told SheThePeople.TV, “Even more worrying than the high unemployment rates is the even higher number of women who are unemployed – and this comes after years of achieving gender parity in education. This means women are as educated as men, having consistently outperformed men in school examinations, but are not getting the jobs. This is the national crisis – where qualifications and jobs are unable to be matched fairly.” 

This means women are as educated as men, having consistently outperformed men in school examinations, but are not getting the jobs. – Meeta Sengupta

While there is a lot of talk of skills and schemes for promoting entrepreneurship, it’s very important for women to be financially independent says Soso Shaiza of NCW. “Women in the northeast are engaged in handicraft and horticulture. A favourable environment needs to be created to encourage role that can be financially rewarding through entrepreneurship.” There may be many efforts in place but by when will opportunities turn into real jobs?

Feature Image Credit: Reuters

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