1 crore unemployed labourers in India: Ministry of Labour and Employment

The Minister of Labour and Employment answers some of the many questions posed by members of Parliament during the monsoon session


The Minister of Labour and Employment was grilled by Members of Parliament on subjects like unemployment and plight of migrant workers on the opening day of the first session of Parliament after the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister submitted that as many as 1,04,66,152 persons migrated back to their hometowns when asked about labourers who had migrated back from their cities during the nation-wide lockdown, during the monsoon session of Parliament on September 14, 2020.

In light of the recent migrations by daily wage workers, Members of Parliament Syed Imtiaz Jaleel and Asaduddin Owaisi asked Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar about the condition of the labour force. Firstly, they asked for a confirmation that the unorganised sector was the worst-affected section of society due to the lockdown. Secondly, members asked for State-wise figures of labourers who had migrated due to loss of jobs. Thirdly, they enquired whether the Central government offered any assistance to States with large migration-intake to rehabilitate these labourers and give them employment. Fourthly, members asked how many people had been repatriated to their work-place during the reverse migration process.

In response, the government presented State-wise figures of migrants who had returned to their home States. However, it failed to confirm the condition of the unorganised sector.

The presented data showed that Uttar Pradesh had the highest intake of migrants with over 32 lakhs people followed closely by Bihar that recorded the return of over 15 lakhs people. Rajasthan and West Bengal also noted over 13 lakhs returning to their homeland. Ladakh and Lakshadweep had the least number of returning labourers with 50 returning people and 456 returning people respectively. Moreover, as per the data, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Mizoram, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and the Union territories of Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands recorded no returning migrants.

However, the data did not talk of reverse migration of people who had returned to urban areas following the end of lockdown.

With regards to relief and rehabilitation, Gangwar said the Centre had announced a relief package of Rs. 1.70 lakh crore under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) for migrant workers and dependents. A list of schemes detailed government efforts to provide employment to migrant workers at their native places like the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan, the Anganwadi Service, the Prime Minister Employment Generation Program, the Gram Udyog Vikas Yojana.

Soon after, Member of Parliament Anto Antony asked the Employment Minister questions on the unemployment level of India. Firstly, he asked for detailed year-wise data on India’s unemployment level in the last five years. Secondly, he asked for data regarding job loss and job creation in the organised and unorganised sectors in the past one year. Thirdly, he asked about government measures to create employment opportunities in the country.

Accordingly, Gangwar presented Unemployment surveys conducted by the Labour Bureau and the Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS) conducted by National Statistical Office (NSO.)

The latest PLFS survey was conducted in 2018-19 that showed the unemployment rate at 5.8 percent. The Employment Minister added that the worker population during the time was 35.3 percent. The unemployment rate was highest in 2017-18 at 6 percent and lowest in 2013-14 at 3.4 percent as per government surveys.

While there was no data regarding unemployment level in 2019-2020, Gangwar said that the Centre considered employment generation and improved employability a priority. He said the Centre had announced an economic package of Rs. 20 lakh crores. He also listed schemes such as Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and others as government measures to address the problem of unemployment in the country.

The submissions made before the parliament may be read here:



Job losses mount, recession looms as India battles Covid-19

India’s unemployment rate dipped marginally to 5.8 percent says government

India needs a stimulus package to fight the COVID-19 Economic battle

Migrant Diaries – The story of Hurdanand Behera





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