Even though the Indian economy has shown some promising signs of recovery, the aftertaste of the COVID-19 pandemic still lingers on in the employment scenario.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy aka CMIE, a whopping 3.5 million workers lost their jobs in November 2020, compared with 0.6 million in the previous month. This translates to a 0.9% decline in employment for November month, compared with a minimal 0.1% decline for October month.
Now, this recent data from CMIE is quite alarming as it clearly signals that the first phase of recovery in India’s employment market post the lockdown is over and therefore the dip in employment has begun setting in once again.
In their weekly analysis, CMIE said that November was the second consecutive month which displayed a contraction in the number of employed people and thus it could very well be considered as an adept reflection of the Indian economy as a whole.
That being said, the CMIE, citing data from the last week of November and December, also said that the declining trend might finally bottom out in December as the labour force participation rate and the employment rate has been observed to be rising in two consecutive weeks
The number of employed individuals declined 2.4% YoY in November 2020, totalling 393.6 million. The situation is quite similar for all preceding months as well. In spite of the steady recover, every single month starting March 2020 showed lower levels of employment than that of 2019. Thus it proves that the job market is nowhere closer to the year-ago levels by a long shot.
Unusually High Number of Workers Willing To Work, But Not Looking For Work!
The CMIE believes that workers are getting high discouraged by the lack of jobs that are currently on offer along with falling wage rates and therefore are choosing to exit the active labour markets.
As of November 2020, CMIE’s data shows 22.5 million individuals are currently inactively unemployed which is twice the average 11.6 million reported in 2019-20. This indicates that the number of unemployed workers who are willing to work but at the same time aren’t actively hunting for work is unusually high when compared to the previous year.
The labour force, aka the sum total of both employed and unemployed who are actively looking for work, has shrunken by 3.6% at 421 million when compared to 2019-20 wherein the figures stood at 437 million.
All in all, according to CMIE, the real worrying indication is the situation of the greater labour force which includes both the labour force and the unemployed who are willing to work but not actively looking for it.
The greater labour force (includes the labour force and the unemployed who are willing to work but are not actively looking for work) showed a decline of 1.1% at 443.5 million when compared to 2019-20 when it stood at 448.4 million. This instance indicates that close to 5 million potential workers have left the labour force entirely and thus is extremely worrisome.
Lastly, it is important to note here that India isn’t alone when it comes to facing the employment crisis due to COVID-19. In the U.S, the total number of jobs is still more than 10 million below its typical peak and it is being gauged that pre-pandemic job levels won’t return until 2024!