About two-thirds, or 67 per cent, of workers lost employment during the ongoing lockdown to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, with urban India posting loss in employment for 8 in 10 workers and almost 6 in 10 workers in rural areas, as per initial findings of a phone survey of nearly 4,000 respondents conducted by Azim Premji University in collaboration with 10 civil society organisations.
The survey was conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra (Pune), Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, and West Bengal to gauge the impact of the lockdown on employment, livelihoods and access to government relief schemes.
Loss of employment was the worst for self-employed in urban areas, with 84 per cent of them losing employment, compared with 76 per cent salaried workers and 81 per cent casual workers. In rural areas, 66 per cent casual wage workers reported loss of employment, followed by 62 per cent of salaried workers and 47 per cent of rural workers.
Average weekly earnings for non-agricultural self-employed workers who were still employed fell by over 90 per cent from Rs 2,240 to Rs 218. For casual workers who were still employed, average weekly earnings almost halved from Rs 940 in February to Rs 495 during lockdown, the survey noted. Half of all salaried workers, or 51 per cent, saw either a cut in their salary or received no salary.
Nearly half (49 per cent) of households reported that they did not have enough money to buy even a week’s worth of essential items, while 80 per cent of urban households and 70 per cent in rural areas reported consuming less food than before. As per the survey, over one-third, or 36 per cent, of vulnerable households in urban India received at least one cash transfer from the government, while 53 per cent of rural households received this benefit.
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