The Centre does not seem to have data on the jobs lost during the pandemic, as the answers given by the Labour Ministry in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday showed.

But Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar did inform the Upper House that over 1 crore migrant workers returned to their home-States during the lockdown.

A quick analysis of 33 written answers tabled by Gangwar showed that eight questions related directly to job losses during the pandemic. DMK MP from Tamil Nadu, Tiruchi Siva, asked three pointed questions: The month-wise unemployment rate for March, April, May, June, July and August, the estimated number of workers who lost jobs due to Covid-19 in the unorganised sector, and the estimated percentage of the jobs lost in the unorganised and organised sectors due to the pandemic.


1 cr migrant workers

Gangwar responded: “The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) on employment and unemployment is conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, on an annual basis. As per PLFS 2018-19, the estimated unemployment rate to the extent available based on such surveys for persons of all ages on a usual status (principal status + subsidiary status) basis was 5.8 per cent. Further, the global spread of the coronavirus followed by the lockdowns has affected economies across the globe including India. Covid-19 has resulted in a large number of migrant workers going back to their native places.”

TMC MP from West Bengal Derek O’ Brien wanted to know the monthly unemployment rate in the last 12 months, if the Centre has assessed the impact of the lockdown on the employment status, and the number of people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic-induced restrictions in the last six months.

Minister touts schemes

Gangwar repeated his response to Siva and added that schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, Aatmanirbhar Bharat and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhayan will create jobs.

When Samajwadi Party MP Ravi Prakash Verma from UP quoted CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy) data of 18.9 million salaried jobs lost in April-July, and sought State-wise details, Gangwar emphasised that the Centre uses only official data to frame policies, and that data captured by non-government agencies are not.

To another question, Gangwar said his ministry envisages developing a National Database for Unorganised Workers seeded with Aadhaar. It will enrol unorganised workers, including migrants, to help them get jobs and other assistance.