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Making sense of EPFO data

Payroll statistics are India's only officially released employment source but they suffer from several gaps

Topics
Esic  |  Epfo  |  Epfo Data

Radhicka Kapoor & Surbhi Ghai  |  New Delhi 



Radhicka Kapoor and Surbhi Ghai

Historically, India’s employment estimates have been generated using household and establishment surveys. Following the clamour for real time high frequency employment data, the task force set up to review India’s employment data last year recommended an additional data source, namely, administrative datasets. Since April 2018, the government has started reporting the progress made in payroll employment using membership data from three schemes — Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), Employees’ State Insurance Scheme (ESIC) and (NPS) on a monthly basis. The payroll numbers are most widely cited as they address problems of duplicate and inoperative accounts by Aadhaar seeding the data and examining only non-zero contributory members. Based on this data, it has been argued that 4.47 million formal jobs were added in the economy between September 2017 and May 2018. Several economists have doubted such claims of a surge in job growth. Reams of newsprint have been spent discussing whether a new enrolment on the database does indeed reflect creation of a new formal job. However, even if we put aside this debate and believe that the data reflects growth in new formal jobs, several doubts and concerns persist.

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First Published: Thu, July 26 2018. 05:55 IST

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