Business Standard

With polls over, government releases report on unemployment, says, data comparison faulty


ANI Politics
With Lok Sabha elections over, the government on Friday made public the Periodic Labour Force Survey report that placed the unemployment rate at 6.1 per cent for year 2017-18, which is set to be the highest in 45-years.
However, government sources maintained comparing the recent jobs data with past data is faulty and foolish.
The PLFS annual report placed the unemployment rate among men at 6.2 per cent and women at 5.7 per cent, combining both rural and urban areas and the overall rate at 6.1 per cent. The report prepared by agencies including the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Labour Bureau, Registrar General, and Census Commission.
The report was carried by media in January but the government did not make it public apparently in view of the ensuing elections that led to a political furore. Opposition parties accused the government of suppressing inconvenient reports. Two expert committee members including the acting Chairman of the National Statistical Commission resigned protesting against the non-release of the report.
At that time, media reports had claimed that unemployment was highest in 1972-73.
According to the PLFS report, during 2017-18, the Labour Force Participation Rate was estimated at 36.9 per cent while the worker population ratio was at 34.7 per cent.
Government sources said there could be nothing farther than truth than saying unemployment in India is at a 45-year high. They contended that past jobs data was measured using the expenditure of households as a criterion. The current jobs data uses education as a criterion instead of expenditure. This is a perfect apple to oranges comparison, they said.
In India, the labour force surveys (Employment and Unemployment Surveys or EUS) have usually been bundled along with the household Consumer Expenditure Survey, conducted typically once in 5 years. The employment and unemployment surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey until 2011-12 used the monthly per capita expenditure of the household in the selected villages/blocks as a basis for stratification of households.
In the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted from 2017-18, a decision was taken to use education levels as a criterion for stratification at the ultimate level.
This change in criteria from monthly per capita expenditure to education levels has direct implications on the comparability of the results of PLFS with the EUS of earlier years. In view of this, the PLFS needs to be seen as a new series for measuring employment and unemployment on an annual basis.

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First Published: May 31 2019 | 8:40 PM IST

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