Survey: Migrant movement, NREGS jobs don’t have link

Updated on Feb 01, 2022 01:03 AM IST

Lockdowns and disruptions necessitated by the pandemic pushed millions of migrant workers and day wagers into a battle for survival, as they fled urban economic hubs in large numbers and returned to their home states.

Bihar and Jharkhand account for the largest number of migrants.(HT file photo)
Bihar and Jharkhand account for the largest number of migrants.(HT file photo)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

There’s no clear link between the movement of migrant labour and employment as well as demand for jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), the Economic Survey FOR 2021-22 said.

Lockdowns and disruptions necessitated by the pandemic pushed millions of migrant workers and day wagers into a battle for survival, as they fled urban economic hubs in large numbers and returned to their home states. Bihar and Jharkhand account for the largest number of migrants.

“Intuitively, one may expect that higher MGNREGS demand may be directly related to the movement of migrant labour i.e. source states would be more impacted,” the survey stated.

The 2021-22 survey said demand for employment at an aggregate level under MGNREGA still seemed to be above the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 -- something that analysts said highlighted that the economy, while on the road to recovery, has not seen a complete bounceback in terms of employment.

For many migrant source states such as West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Bihar, MGNREGA employment in most months of 2021 was lower than the corresponding levels in 2020, the annual economic report card said.

In contrast, the demand for MGNREGS employment was higher for migrant recipient states such as Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for most months in 2021 over 2020, the survey added.

“There are still other states that do not neatly fit into this categorization.” The survey therefore concluded that the “relationship between MGNREGS employment and movement of migrant labour during the last two years cannot be conclusively determined”. Further research was needed into this, it said.

On overall employment trends, the survey said while unemployment rose sharply during the lockdown imposed by the pandemic, the unemployment rate fell as the economy opened up.

The unemployment rate gradually dipped during this period to reach 9.3% in the three months ended March 2021,and it has since recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the survey claimed.

Both the labour force participation rate and worker population ratio for men and women, aged 15 and above, reached almost their pre-pandemic levels during the last quarter of 2020-21, it said.

The urban unemployment rate rose to 20.8% in India in the first quarter of 2020-21, the survey said. However, as Covid-19 related restrictions eased and economic sectors opened up, all three labour market indicators -- labour force participation rate, worker population ratio and unemployment rates -- showed a “swift recovery”.

The survey said allocation to MGNREGS in financial year 2021-22 rose to 73,000 crore from 61,500 crore in 2020-21. Allocation for 2021-22 has been increased to 98,000 crore so far. In 2021-22, over 8.70 crore individuals and 6.10 crore households were provided work so far.

“The problem still is on a net basis, job creation has lagged and a comparison with pre-pandemic levels don’t help because employment has been a big problem since 2016 onwards, when growth began tapering off,” said Devi Prasad, a former labour economist with Gokhale Institute of Economics.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.

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