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2.5 lakh jobs back, claims government

business Updated: May 19, 2009 02:16 IST
Chitrangada Choudhury
Chitrangada Choudhury
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Employment increased in the following sectors
Gems & Jewellery (3.08%),
Textiles (0.96%),
IT/BPO (0.82%),
Handloom/Powerloom (0.28%)
Automobiles (0.10%).
Employment fell in the following sectors:
Leather (2.76%)
Metals (0.56%)
Transport (0.36%)
Source: Ministry of Labour & Employment study, May 2009
A government’s study to assess the effect of the economic slowdown on jobs in key sectors has thrown up a surprising finding – employment has revived in the last two months.

Five lakh jobs were lost, according to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, between October – December 2008. An additional 1 lakh jobs dried up in January 2009. On Monday, the ministry said that jobs had grown by 2.5 lakh by March 2009.

Conducted in mid April, the survey—its findings were withheld till now because of the Election Commission’s Code of Conduct—covered 3,192 units in 10 states.

From Tirupur to Mumbai, it visited key sectors like textile manufacturing, powerloom/handloom, IT and BPOs, automobiles, leather, metals, gems and jewellery, which contribute an estimated 60% of India’s Gross Domestic Product, and over 16 million formal jobs.

V Chalam of Chandigarh’s Labour Bureau, which conducted the study, attributed the regaining of 2.5 lakh jobs to “employment incentive schemes by government departments such as the commerce ministry, as a response to the loss of jobs in the end of 2008.”

But industry representatives were skeptical about the findings, saying they ran contrary to the turmoil on the ground. D K Nair, General Secretary of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry said, “Till April, our production was declining, as was employment.” Nair estimated that 1 million jobs have vanished since last August in the industry, which employs 35 million Indians.

In addition, the survey has not studied the informal sector, which employs an estimated 85% of India’s workforce. “There is a lot of misery there – if not job loss, certainly falling wages”, said Chalam.

In particular, Chalam’s team could not penetrate the construction industry—said to be the biggest employer today, after agriculture—because of the high degree of subcontracting, as well as non co-operation by builders. A senior ministry bureaucrat said, “We now plan to commission a separate survey for construction workers.”

The survey claimed that the slowdown has had no impact on contractual labour, most vulnerable in times like these.