Govt plans quarterly data on jobs from next financial year
Starting from the April-June quarter of 2022, the first of financial year 2022-23, the labour ministry will release official quarterly estimates of the number of jobs created in the country, a government official familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
India lacks an official periodic, high-frequency jobs survey and two quarterly employment surveys are meant to fill this critical gap.
Economists and policymakers usually depend on the longer-term Periodic Labour Force Survey of the Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation or the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private data firm, for trends in the labour market and employment/unemployment data.
The quarterly estimates will be available via the All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey or AQEES, currently under way.
AQEES has two components. One is the quarterly employment survey (QES), which deals with the formal sector. Results of the first round of this survey were released last week, showing a 29% increase in employment in nine sectors during the peak Covid-19 months of April-June 2021 over a base of 2013-14.
This means employment grew an average annual 3.42% since 2014, led by jobs in the technology sector, aside from those in nine key sectors including manufacturing and financial services.
The second component, launched this past Sunday, will capture job-creation estimates in the unorganized sector through a sample survey. It is being called the Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES) and will cover businesses employing less than 10 workers.
The two components will eventually be merged to provide official quarterly employment estimates in the country for the first time from the first quarter of FY2022-23, the official said. “By FY2022-23, the government plans to combine these and put outcomprehensive quarterly job creation estimates.”
“The government’s move to survey the labour market quarterly and release more employment data should be wholeheartedly welcomed. It will help bridge the data gap and without data, we are blind,” Mahesh Vyas of CMIE said.
The second wave of Covid-19 is estimated to have wiped out at least 23 million jobs, according to CMIE.
A nascent recovery has however started, adding jobs and the country’s unemployment rate dropped sharply to 6.26% in September , compared to 8.32% in August, according to CMIE, which tracks the labour market with proprietary tools.
In any jobs survey, people with jobs are categorised as employed. People without jobs, but actively looking for one, are considered unemployed. The labour force participation rate is equal to people who are employed plus those who are not. The unemployment rate therefore is the number of unemployed divided by the labour force times 100.
In all, the quarterly surveys will capture data from the job markets in nine sectors, including manufacturing, hospitality, trade, transport and education in both formal and informal sectors of Asia’s third largest economy.
Releasing the first-round results of the job survey in the formal sector last week, the labour bureau’s report said: “It is obvious that employment figures from establishment-based surveys like the present QES (as the initial first component of the All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey AQEES) can provide an idea -- though incomplete -- about ‘gainful’ employment in different sectors of the economy.”
“The growth rate (in jobs of 29% in the formal sector) reported by the government constitutes simple growth between two data points and hence we get fantastic growth rates like 29%. However, for assessing employment scenario, the reliable growth rate statistic would be the compounded average growth rate,” said KR Shyam Sundar of the Xaviers Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur.