Jharkhand’s unemployment rate surges during lockdown, highest at 59.2 percent in May

Opposition leader demands that migrants’ database be made, Jharkhand Pravasi Kendras be started in various states and action plan for employment be made


The Covid-19 pandemic has set unemployment rates surging across the country as industries witnessed shutdowns. However, Jharkhand, a tribal state which witnesses high rates of migration, witnessed the highest percentage of unemployment in May, at 59.2 percent, as recorded by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

This rate of unemployment of Jharkhand was starkly higher than the national average which stood at 23.48 percent in the month of May, 2020 and its surrounding states Bihar which had an unemployment rate of 46.2 percent, Chhattisgarh which stood at 11.3 percent, Odisha which stood at 9.6 percent and West Bengal which had an unemployment rate of 17.4 percent, the report by CMIE showed.

While Jharkhand’s unemployment rate was fairly low in the first three months of the year – at 10.6 percent in January, 11.8 percent in February and 8.2 percent in March, it grew sharply after the lockdown, increasing to 47.1 percent in April and 59.2 percent in May. Approximately 5 lakh migrants have returned to Jharkhand since May 1st, 2020.

The Telegraph reported that citing the findings of the report, Leader of Opposition from the Congress, Babulal Marandi wrote to Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren asking him to prepare a concrete action plan to save matters before they go out of hand. On his official Twitter handle he wrote that though they wished all local residents received unemployment in the state, it was not possible to do so. He suggested that the government consider opening Jharkhand Pravasi Kendra’s in different parts of the country, a move that would benefit both, the migrant labourers and the government.

In his letter to the CM, Marandi said that the government had itself admitted that there were more than 10 lakh migrant labourers in the state, while other sources claimed there were 12 lakh migrants. He said that while the state’s intentions were aspirational, it was not possible to grant every resident a job as per their talent and education, adding that some migrants had already started returning to other states post the easing of the lockdown.

Marandi said that the government should have a database of migrants according to their skill. He said that the Jharkhand Pravasi Kendras would help original residents of Jharkhand residing in other states to address their problems, adding that these centers could also hold cultural or educational programmes for migrants once or twice a year to help keep them affiliated to it and their culture. This, he says, would ensure that a database be continually maintained and come in help at the time of emergencies.


However, speaking to The Telegraph, economist Harishwar Dayal, said that the numbers couldn’t be completely relied upon as the methodology of calculation was unclear. He told TT, “The fact that most of these farmers are unemployed due to the lockdown could be one of the factors leading to the high unemployment rate.”

In the month of May 2020, the Jharkhand government had launched three schemes under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) – the Birsa Harit Gram Yojana for rural plantations, the Neelambar Pitambar JAL Samriddhi Yojana for water conservation and the Poto Ho Khel Vikas Scheme for making playgrounds, the Indian Express had reported.



Under the Birsa Harit Yojana, five lakh families would be given nearly 100 fruit-bearing plants to be planted over two lakh acres of land for afforestation. The families are estimated to receive an annual income of Rs. 50,000 from the produce, the third year onwards.

Mentioning that the rural economy was hit and that the government needed to create employment for those returning from other states, Rural Development Department Principal Secretary Avinash Kumar had told the Indian Express, “In Birsa Harit Gram Yojna, Rs 660 crore will be spent in a year, in which, Rs 520 crore will be the only wage component, leading to the creation of employment of 270 lakh person days and assets in 220,000 hectares. Under the Jal Yojna, Rs 1,200 crore will be spent with 90% being the wage component. For playgrounds, we will develop 1,000 in one year, generating employment of 850 lakh person days.”

Labourers from Jharkhand’s Santhal Pargana region who travel to Leh-Ladakh for roads construction works for the Border Roads Organization (BRO) are also set to get a 20 percent hike in wages and other benefits like healthcare, medical and injury benefits, travel allowance and housing benefits, the Hindustan Times reported.

A total of 11,815 labourers from the state will get a chance to work with the BRO. This decision was taken after migrant workers who had returned to Jharkhand from Leh on May 29 had told the CM of their exploitation by the contractors and middlemen. The contractors also used to keep their ATM cards and withdraw one-third of the wages when they returned home, the migrants alleged before the chief minister.



The three states with most migrants – Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, with 30 lakh, 5.5 lakh and 32 lakh returnees respectively, have begun the skill mapping of labourers to offer them gainful employment, The Indian Express reported. In Bihar, 12.31 lakh migrants have been skill-mapped, in Jharkhand 2.50 lakh and in Uttar Pradesh 28.13 lakh have been skill-mapped until now.

In Jharkhand, the government has launched the Mission Saksham app to aid in skill mapping. There are 49 categories under 14 sectors including construction, automotive sector and logistics apart from others. In Jharkhand, 49,942 workers are said to be engaged in construction and allied activities, 34,757 in the automotive sector and 22,328 in the logistics sector.


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