UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 5 May 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the unemployment crisis, and the impact of the pandemic.

Syllabus: GS-III Issues relating growth and development, employment

Unemployment crisis:

  • According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey, employment in India fell from 408.9 million in 2019-20 to 387.2 million in 2020-21 and then recovered to 401.8 million in 2021-22.
    • The recovery in 2021-22 was inadequate.
    • Employment was still 1.7%, or 7 million short of the employment level of the pre-pandemic year of 2019-20.
  • Employment was on a declining trend even before the pandemic:
    • it was falling at the rate of about 0.31% per annum.
    • If that trend had continued uninterrupted by the pandemic, employment would have fallen by about 2.5 million from 408.9 million in 2019-20 to 406.3 million in 2021-22. 

Impact of the pandemic:

  • Nearly 78 million jobs were lost during the quarter of June 2020, which roughly coincides with the first wave of COVID-19.
    • Similarly, 13 million jobs were lost during the second wave during the quarter of June 2021.
    • Most jobs lost during lockdowns were of the informal kinds.
  • Women accounted for less than 11% of all jobs in 2019-20, but they accounted for nearly 52% of the 7 million job losses since then.
    • In urban India: women accounted for only 9% of total employment but accounted for a massive 76% of the job losses.
    • The female labour force participation rate among urban women was abysmally low at 9.4% in 2019-20 and fell to 7% in 2021-22.
    • Working from home with the rest of the family also at home made it harder for women compared to the hardship of commuting to work.
    • It is going to be difficult to cover the 3.6 million loss of employment among women during the pandemic.
  • Working from home also does not help those who have to go to work such as small traders/vendors and daily wage labourers, who account for the largest share of employment in India.
    • The count of entrepreneurs who, like small traders and daily wage labourers, also have the freedom to work when conditions permit has also come down – from 78 million in 2019-20 to 75 million in 2021-22.
  • The biggest relative fall in employment is in the category of salaried employees (6.8%).
    • About 5.9 million salaried employees have lost employment in the two years of the pandemic.
    • Unlike daily wage labourers, small traders and entrepreneurs, salaried employees cannot go back to work at will.
    • Except for a few high-skill jobs, finding a new salaried job is difficult. 


  • Employing women and providing salaried jobs are the two big challenges that the pandemic has posed that are going to be difficult to tackle soon. 

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