Jobless Numbers Continue to Grow But Govt. Remains Unconcerned

Unemployment hit 78-week high as per CMIE while 4.2 crore registered jobseekers for 8.6 lakh job vacancies in govt.’s online portal.

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Unemployment is death by a thousand cuts, and India continues to suffer this death a million times. Two recent sets of data confirm what everybody knows – there are no jobs and more and more people are struggling on the streets.

True to its penchant for turning everything into a digital portal, the Modi govt. created one for job seekers and job vacancies called the National Career Service portal. According to data available on this portal, in the three years 2015-16 to 2017-18, some 861,391 job vacancies were put out while the number of jobseekers registered were a staggering 4.2 crore.

These are not perfect figures. Not all people register at employment exchanges or the online portal. Neither do all employers seeking employees. Yet it gives a sense of what is going on in the real world – there are 50 persons running after every single job opening. Besides showing the dire jobs situation, it is easy to see that such a condition will also keep wages depressed. Employers can fix wage rates arbitrarily and hire those that agree to such low wages because there are so many desperate people out there looking for jobs.

Here is another set of data. Latest CMIE estimates show that joblessness had increased to 7.25% in the first fortnight of April this year. These are preliminary weekly estimates and can dip slightly over a month, but even then, it is the highest level in 78 weeks.

About 13 lakh people join the labour force every month in India. That’s about 1.56 crore people every year. Yet the new job creation rate had fallen to less than 1% in 2017. In fact, the labour force shrank from about 44 crore to 42 crore. These are mind boggling numbers and represents a tragedy of unimaginable proportions.

The past four years have seen not just the inability of the Modi led govt. to create jobs but a tendency to make ever wilder projections, assuring so many million jobs in this project and so many in that programme. Finance minister Jaitley, for instance, in his last Budget speech coolly announced that 70 lakh jobs will be created this year. How? Neither he nor anybody else knows.

Industrial growth is tepid, investments are stagnating, rural job creation is in tatters with record number of people seeking turning to the rural job guarantee scheme, exports are down – in short the real economy is stuck in doldrums, whatever the GDP or stock exchange data be.

The pain is all the more acutely felt because Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to create 1 crore jobs. After years of jobless growth under the UPA regime, there was a sense of hope. People voted for him in large numbers mainly drawn by this promise. Yet nothing has changed.

Or rather, under Modi’s watch, India has turned into job-loss economy. According to the latest report of the RBI supported KLEMS Database , India’s employment growth rate fell by 0.1% in 2015-16 and 0.2% in 2016-17, despite the country’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growing by 7.4% and 8.2%, in those years respectively. Several sectors like agriculture, mining and sub-sectors of manufacturing saw declines in labour growth rates.

Conditions of work too have suffered drastic declines with the govt. itself recently declaring that fixed term employment would be legally permissible in all types of industries. This means that temporary or contractual work has now become officially approved, giving employers the unfettered right to hire and fire.

As Modi’s term nears its end in 2019, people await a new path that deals with rampant joblessness and decline of living standards.




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