While the Indian economy may be growing at a fast pace, the growth is not leading to many new jobs with less than one per cent growth in employment creation. The jobs that exist are low-paying, with 92 per cent of the female workers and 82 per cent of the male workers earning less than Rs 10,000 per month, these are just two of the findings of a report on ‘State of Working in India’, prepared by Centre for Sustainable Employment at the Azim Premji University.
As a comparison, the report mentions that 67 per cent of the households in India earn less than Rs 10,000 every month, which is much lower than the minimum pay recommended by the Seventh Central Pay Commission of Rs 18,000 per month.
Comparing to the growth rate of jobs to the 1970s, the report mentions that for a 3 per cent to 4 per cent rate of GDP growth back then, employment grew by around 2 per cent every year, which has come down to less than 1 per cent when the GDP is growing at 7 per cent. Additionally, the report says that unemployment has risen across the country between 2011 and 2015 with a seven million drop in total employment, and “more recent data from private sources show that the absolute decline has continued past 2015,” the report mentions. After adjusting for inflation, between 2011 and 2015, wages for the organised manufacturing, unorganised manufacturing and unorganised services grew by 2 per cent, 4 per cent and 5 per cent annually, respectively.
“It used to be said that India’s problem is not unemployment but underemployment and low wages. But a new feature of the economy is a high rate of open unemployment,” among the unemployed the youth and the “higher educated” have the highest rate of unemployment at 16 per cent, for a national average of over five per cent, with “severe” unemployment in the northern states.
During the discussion on the release of the report, Santosh Mehrotra of the Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University said that “how do you solve a problem if you don’t recognise it,” regarding the government’s narrative that there is no problem with jobs, and on the lack of official data on employment.