Net new enrolments with retirement fund body EPFO rose to 14.9 lakh in September from 8.8 lakh in August 2020, according to its latest payroll data, providing a perspective on formal sector employment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Provisional payroll data released by the EPFO last month had shown that net new enrolments stood at 10.05 lakh in August this year. The figure has now been revised down to 8.8 lakh.

The net enrolments with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had dropped to 5.72 lakh in March 2020 from 10.21 lakh in February, according to the payroll data released in May.

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Latest data released on Friday showed that net new enrolments in April were in the negative zone at (-) 1,49,248 against the figure of (-) 1,04,608 released in October. This means that the number of members who exited the EPFO subscription was more than those who joined or rejoined the scheme.

Earlier in July, provisional data had showed net new enrolments for April stood at 1 lakh, which was revised down to 20,164 in August and further lowered to (-) 61,807 in September.

The number of net new enrolments in May was also revised to (-) 97,988 from the (-) 35,336 estimated in the data released last month.

The net new enrolments with the EPFO hover around 7 lakh every month on an average.

During 2019-20, the number of net new subscribers rose to 78.58 lakh as compared to 61.12 lakh in the preceding fiscal.

Payroll data release

The EPFO has been releasing the payroll data of new subscribers since April 2018, covering the period starting from September 2017.

The data also showed that during September 2017-September 2020, the number of net new subscribers was over 1.86 crore.

According to a labour ministry statement on the data, the EPFO has added 14.90 lakh net subscribers in September 2020, thereby increasing its subscriber base by around 30.92 lakh during the first two quarters of the current financial year.

It also stated that a year-on-year comparison shows that September 2020 registered a healthy 49 per cent growth in terms of net payroll additions.

“The net payroll addition figures for the second quarter of FY’21 are 30.34 lakh which is approximately equal to payroll figures of the second quarter of FY’20. This indicates a robust recovery to pre COVID-19 levels,” it said.

The number of members who exited and then rejoined indicates both switchings of jobs by them within the establishments covered under EPF scheme and subscribers choosing to retain their membership by transferring their PF accumulations rather than opting for final withdrawal. The figure has increased by about 10 per cent from 6.53 lakh in August to 7.23 lakh in September 2020.

Age-wise analysis

Age-wise analysis indicates that during September, the maximum numbers of new additions belonged to the more than 35 years age bracket, followed by 18-21 and 22-25 years, respectively.

The age group of more than 35 years registered remarkable growth in net additions from around 1.24 lakh in August to 3.90 lakh in September. Increase in this age bracket indicates the return of jobs to experienced workers.

The 18-25 age group members can be considered as fresh hands in the job market and have also shown strong revival by accounting for almost 42 per cent of the new subscribers.

The state-wise comparison shows Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka remained at the forefront of the employment recovery cycle, adding approximately 54 per cent of the total of 30.34 lakh net payroll additions for the second quarter of FY21 across all the age groups.

Category-wise analysis

Category-wise analysis of industry indicates that ‘expert services’ category has continued its recovery, adding 47 per cent of the net payroll during the second quarter.

The ministry said data from some other industries such as building and construction with 1.62 lakh additions, followed by engineers and engineering contractors (1.57 lakh) and electrical, mechanical and general engineering products (1.51 lakh) during the second quarter shows that the recovery has started picking up in other sectors as well.

The EPFO said the payroll data is provisional as updation of employees’ records is a continuous process and gets updated in subsequent months.

“The government announced a lockdown on March 24, 2020. Accordingly, ECR (PF returns) filing date for March month was extended to May 15, 2020,” the EPFO had said in May while releasing the data.

In June, it had said, “The due date for submission of ECRs for April 2020 has been extended in view of the lockdown.”

The estimates are net of the new members enrolled, members exited and rejoined during the month, as per records of the EPFO.

The estimates may include temporary employees whose contributions may not be continuous for the entire year, it has said.

The EPFO manages social security funds of workers in the organised/ semi-organised sector in India. It has more than six crore active members (with at least one-month contribution during the year).

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