To avoid a political slugfest, the transparency of employment data is crucial | analysis | Hindustan Times
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To avoid a political slugfest, the transparency of employment data is crucial

The government must act as an enabler of the process – vetted by third party sources – and not necessarily the creator of the data. An authentic data set will throw light on real-time employment generation

analysis Updated: Jun 06, 2018 16:06 IST
Anomalies did exist in the labour bureau’s survey but they were fixable. As per the 2015-16 report, three out of four households in the country did not have a salaried wage earner. At the same time, the unemployment rate was just 5% and the gender-wise breakup was 8.7% for women and 4.3% for men. (REUTERS)

One of the most fundamental challenges for a country’s growth is continuous employment generation. All estimates suggest that the number of jobs created is going down, but we don’t have any authoritative data. And for the last 10 years, the governments have been trying their best to hide whatever data there is.

The labour ministry used to produce elaborate employment statistics but the previous government discontinued it unceremoniously. The present government discontinued even the Labour Bureau’s annual Employment-Unemployment survey report after the unemployment data inched up to 5.1% in the rural sector and 4.9% in urban areas last year.

We need to know these numbers because a large part of the country is underemployed, doing piecemeal jobs but we have no reliable record of the job count.

Anomalies did exist in the labour bureau’s survey but they were fixable. As per the 2015-16 report, three out of four households in the country did not have a salaried wage earner. At the same time, the unemployment rate was just 5% and the gender-wise breakup was 8.7% for women and 4.3% for men.

Instead of abandoning the process, the Government should have rectified the shortcomings.

Job data must be real-time and transparent

A new set of job data is reportedly being now prepared by the NITI Aayog, and is expected to be out in September. Ensuring the data set’s transparency and credibility will be a litmus test for the NITI Aayog.

Such data should be comprehensive and have detailed breakdowns of both full-time as well as part-time jobs. As jobs are increasingly becoming freelance and temporary in nature, it’s important that the data produced is updated on a monthly basis. Developed nations have proven job data statistics that can act as a template for us.

To avoid a political slugfest, the transparency of data is crucial. The least the government can do is to collate authentic sectoral data. Every sector has an association that takes care of its interests. Every sector should be given charge of data collection under common guidelines. If needed, independent consulting houses can be brought in to help with data collection.

The government must act as an enabler of the process – vetted by third party sources – and not necessarily the creator of the data. An authentic data set will throw light on real-time employment generation.

Sandip Sen is a journalist

The views expressed are personal