The average days of employment per household under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in FY23 are likely to be lower than in the last two fiscal years. This is according to the analysis of the data the Ministry of Rural Development put out.

Data until March 6 show that the average days of employment under the Act was 45 in FY23. An extrapolation of the data for the full year could take it to around 48 days. This is two days lesser than the numbers in FY22 and four days lesser than the numbers in FY21.

The average days of employment per household are calculated by dividing the total number of person-days generated by the total number of households that sought work under the Act in a particular financial year. “The mandate of the MGNREGA is to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work,” reads the Act’s mission statement. The jobs include cleaning canals and drains, tilling, ploughing and clearing weeds.

However, in no financial year, since its inception, was the scheme able to provide 100 days of employment to all job seekers. The maximum number of average days of employment under the Act was in FY10 when it was 54. Even though it went up to 52 days in FY21, when the demand was high during the pandemic, it started coming down since then.

A closer look into the data says that the trend wasn’t uniform across States, as one would expect. The two extremes are two neighbours — Mizoram and Manipur. While in Mizoram, where 2.15 lakh households who sought work were provided with an average of 80 days of work, in Manipur, its NREGA worker population of 2.94 lakh people were provided just 18 days of work. The States that did better include Tripura (58 days), Kerala (57 days), Odisha and Rajasthan (53 days each). West Bengal (23 days), Goa (24 days), Haryana (29 days) and Assam (33 days) have fared quite badly.