Fresh formal job creation cooled for the second consecutive month to decline to a six-month low in September, signalling a downturn in the labour markets this financial year.
The number of new monthly subscribers under the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) declined by 6.45 per cent to 891,583 in September from 953,092 in August, shows the latest payroll data released by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on Monday.
Besides, the net payroll additions -- calculated by taking into account the number of new subscribers, the number of exits, and the return of old subscribers -- increased by 14.9 per cent to 1.72 million in September from 1.49 million in August.
The net monthly payroll numbers are, however, provisional in nature and are often revised sharply the following month. That is why the new EPF subscriber figure has greater certitude than net additions.
Of the 891,583 fresh EPF subscribers in September, the share of women declined to 25.3 per cent (226,392) in September from 26.12 per cent (248,980) in August.
However, the share of young people belonging to the 18-28 age group among the new subscribers stood at 68.8 per cent (613,471) in September, slightly up from the 67.93 per cent (647,522) in August. This is crucial because subscribers in this age group are usually first-timers in the labour market, thus reflecting its robustness.
The labour ministry in a statement said in net membership, around 41.46 per cent addition in September was from expert services consisting of manpower suppliers, normal contractors, security services, and miscellaneous activities.
“A month-on-month comparison of industry-wise data displays significant growth in the members working in establishments engaged in the sugar industry, courier services, iron and steel, hospitals, travel agencies, etc,” the statement noted.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), which conducts its own Consumer Pyramids Household Survey, the labour markets fared well in September, proved by the fact that the unemployment rate dropped to a one-year low as joblessness in rural areas fell along with a decline in the labour participation rate and a weak monsoon.
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“The overall joblessness rate slid to 7.09 per cent last month, from 8.10 per cent in August. That’s the lowest reading since September last year. Rural unemployment dropped to 6.20 per cent, from 7.11 per cent in August, while urban unemployment rate fell to 8.94 per cent from 10.09 per cent in the same period, ahead of the key festival season in India,” it said in a statement.
The monthly data released by the EPFO is part of the government’s effort to track formal-sector employment by using payrolls as an instrument. Since April 2018, the National Statistical Office (NSO) has been bringing out employment-related statistics in the formal sector, covering the period September 2017 onwards, using information on the number of subscribers under the EPF Scheme, Employees’ State Insurance Scheme, and the National Pension System.