A first-ever survey by the Labour Bureau under the Union Ministry of Labour has shown that chronic unemployment — being jobless for more than six months — in India for 2009-10 stands at 9.4 per cent of the population, more than thrice the 2.8 per cent estimated by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
The survey was conducted in 300 districts among the 28 states and union territories with working class age of 15 to 59 years.The unemployment rate was higher at 11.1 percent in rural areas as compared to 7.3 per cent in urban areas with women worse off at 14.6 per cent compared to just 8 per cent among men, said the ‘Report on Employment & Unemployment Survey 2009-10’.The NSSO’s findings based on Consumer Expenditure Survey for 2007-08 had placed the unemployment figure at 2.8 per cent counting 11 million as unemployed. In contrast, the Labour Bureau has estimated 40 million to be unemployed.
It also shows that about 85 per cent of the employed labour force has no access to social security benefits such as provident fund, gratuity, health care, maternity benefits and pension. In a significant shift from earlier data, the survey says that less than half — 45.5 per cent — are employed in agriculture. Of this, 57.6 per cent are in villages while 9.9 per cent reside in urban areas. In contrast, the NSSO survey had put the overall figure of employment in agriculture at 55 per cent — over 70 per cent in villages and 7 per cent in urban areas.
Also, construction today employs as much as 7.5 per cent of the workforce.“While the shift of workforce from agriculture to other sectors is a positive trend of an emerging economy, the steep decline in share of agriculture employment in our survey may be due to lack of adequate probing skills of our investigators,” Labour Bureau Director General Brianchi N Nanda told The Indian Express. Nanda said that though his bureau’s survey was based on a “thin sample” of about 46,000 households compared to NSSO’s 1.10 lakh, the findings were accurate even after allowing for a 10 per cent standard deviation. “At best, the unemployment rate would be 8.5 per cent but that is also big compared to what has been estimated so far,” he said.