Urban unemployment rate is rising in the country, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of April-June 2021. According to the report, 12.7 persons out of 100 in the labour force, are unemployed. While experts interpreted the data as a reflection of the uneven economic recovery, trade unions maintained that this is a result of the Centre persistently ignoring the problem of unemployment and also job loss.

The PLFS report said the unemployment rate among labour force between 15-29 years is 25.5. In the last quarter it was 22.9, and in the corresponding quarter of 2020 it was 34.7. The unemployment rate among women in this age group is 31 and among men it is 24. The rate among all ages during the period is 12.7. The rate among women in all ages is 14.3 and men in all ages is 12.2. In the last quarter this was 9.4, 11.8 and 8.7, respectively. During the first wave of Covid, between April and June 2020, the rates were 20.9 for labour work force of all ages, 21.2 for females and was 20.8 for males.

The highest urban unemployment rate for persons of all ages is in Kerala – 24.4 followed by Chhattisgarh (19.2). Gujarat has the lowest (5.5) followed by Delhi (7.9). “According to the current weekly status (CWS) approach, a person was considered as unemployed in a week if he/she did not work even for 1 hour on any day during the reference week but sought or was available for work at least for 1 hour on any day during the reference week,” said the survey.

Experts said the PLFS report supports the theory that even a short run fall in economic growth contributes to rise in level of unemployment and vice-versa. “According to the report, the urban unemployment rate was 12.6 percent, above three percent higher than its previous quarter. During the same period, the GSDP at constant price fell over 20 per cent. Next, from the report it is also clear that Covid impact is less in the second wave as the unemployment rate in the Q1 of 2021 (first wave of Covid-19) was above 20 per cent,” said Sridhar Kundu, senior research analyst of Indian School of Business.

Trade unions said the data is a reflection of a huge problem the country is facing. “It is the truth which the BJP denies to accept that job losses are a reality and unemployment is rising. This is being reflected in the eruption of protests by youth for demand of employment. Releasing this statistics after the elections to five states were over on March 7 is a commentary in itself,” said AITUC General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur.

Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), the percentage of persons in labour force (working or seeking or available for work) in the population of all ages is 37.1. In the last quarter it was 37.5 and in the corresponding quarter of 2020, the number was 35.9. The Worker Population Ratio (WPR), the percentage of employed persons in the population of all ages, was 32.4, and in the previous quarter it was 34.0 and in the corresponding quarter of 2020 it was 28.4.

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