For the first time, India will come out with quarterly data on different aspects of labour markets, later this year. However, it will not be the kind of job data that countries like the United States come out with, since much of the labour force in India is self-employed, in the unorganised sector, where the nature and characteristics of employment are irregular.
The data, to be compiled by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, will bring out the proportion of population actively contributing to production of goods and services, also known as the labour force participation ratio, every quarter.
It will also give details of the percentage of working age persons in the economy who are employed or looking for employment. The working age is considered to be between 16 and 64 years of age. The aim is a comprehensive picture of the job scenario in the country on a regular basis.
The survey will generate key labour indicators at national levels for both the organised and unorganised sectors. It will also give some indicators of monthly labour remuneration for casual workers, regular wage employees and the self-employed.
Work for the survey has already started and the first such set of data should come out this year. “We have launched the pilot on a sufficiently big scale and are hopeful of getting the data ready soon,” Chief Statistician T C A Anant told Business Standard.
The data, however, will not just focus on employment created or lost during a period of time. “A job data or pure employment numbers as done in some Western countries won’t be possible in India on a quarterly basis, as more than 50 per cent of the labour force is classified as self-employed,” Anant said. This labour is not only highly-fragmented, but is also sometimes engaged in multiple professions.
“Take the example of a washerman. He might wash clothes in the morning and sell vegetables by the evening. The challenge will be to capture such sort of employment and also the wage part of it,” he said.
Typically, the self-employed sector is not affected by economic slowdown or growth, though their earnings might alter. It won’t be as in Western countries, where slowdown leads to retrenchment and layoffs. The data will be an important tool for not only the policy markers, but also for analysts and market participants.
According to the Union labour ministry, nearly 63.5 million people aged between 15 years and 59 years will come into to the employable labour pool between 2011 and 2016.
There is a medium-term aim to increase employment by 2.5 per cent annually, to help sustain a near-nine per cent job-generating economic growth.
Anant said the new data would be much more comprehensive and frequent than the existing reports. Currently, the Annual Survey of Industries, labour ministry and National Sample Survey Organisation come out with employment reports.
While the Annual Survey of Industries deals with only organised labour in factories, the ministry of labour began issuing employment reports from last year, on an annual basis. The latest NSSO data on employment pertains to 2007-08.