The task-force on employment data, which was constituted by the Prime Minister’s Office last month, is expected to look at setting up a regular household-based survey to record jobs data, in place of the current quarterly employment survey (QES), published by the labour bureau, Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya said on Friday. He is also heading the said task-force.
Due to a lack of reliable, timely data on employment, the Prime Minister’s Office had set up the task-force in May, to suggest solutions for gathering reliable information about the scenario of jobs in the country, which can be implemented in a time bound manner.
“My sense of it is that the debate on jobs has happened virtually in vacuum. I have looked at this (QES) report carefully. There are some serious problems with this survey. Our total labour force, including that in agriculture, is, by even conservative estimates, around 47 crore. The survey looks at only 3 crore, and until December 2015 it covered only 11 states. But the worst problem is that it’s a non-random survey. The selection is purposive rather than random. Sampling has to be random, otherwise your multipliers, which you use to convert sample into population, go haywire,” Panagariya said.
“In fact, you can’t really extrapolate sample to the population here. There is also a very serious problem because it is an enterprise survey of the sample frame itself. The sample frame is a 2012-13 industry census. Every year that frame is changing, but we don’t have that data because we don’t do a census every year. This is what has triggered the setting up of the task-force,” he said, adding that the panel has already had two meetings, and will have another one soon.
He said that the household-based survey will gather actual and estimates of employment data annually, and also quarterly actuals and estimates for urban employment data.
As per the latest QES, around 1.52 lakh casual workers engaged in sectors such as manufacturing, IT-BPO sector lost their jobs during October-December. The labour bureau collects information from around 10,630 units as a representative sample in eight sectors on an all-India level to prepare the report. The PMO statement, announcing the formation of the aforementioned task-force also raised red flags with the labour bureau’s data.
It said that information “covers only a few sectors and the methodology is not based on updated panel of survey respondents”. This has resulted in both policy making and analysis being “conducted in a data vacuum.”