Updated: July 12, 2020 10:58:11 am
WHILE unwinding of the national lockdown set off a definite uptick in economic activity, there is an unmistakable plateauing as state authorities slap fresh curbs to counter the viral surge.
This trend is seen from June across multiple data sets analysed by The Indian Express: indicators for mobility, both at workplaces and retail areas; electricity consumption, unemployment rates and progress in stalled projects.
That the “unlocking” has been patchy is reinforced by Google footfall data showing that while public mobility has improved in recent weeks across India, states that have higher infection rates are seeing curtailed public movement and economic activity.
Public movement in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab has increased sharply as compared to that in the lockdown phase, while Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat and West Bengal showed slower improvement. In Tamil Nadu, too, footfall data is lower as numbers peaked.
Retail and recreation mobility for July 5 was 68 per cent lower than that for the baseline period of January 3-February 6. There was a yawning gap in mid-April — about 87 per cent.
After having improved briefly to 55 per cent in mid-June, the mobility trend gap has widened over 60 per cent in end-June as compared to the baseline period, according to the data.
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Similarly, workplace mobility declined 69 per cent from the baseline in mid-April, which then recovered to a 26 per cent gap in early-June but since then has hovered in the range of 33-36 per cent.
Google’s footfall data covers six common location types such as workplaces, retail and recreation, supermarket and pharmacy, parks, public transport and residential locations, based on GPS signals. The data, available since mid-February, reports the change in footfalls at each location type for each day as compared to normal.
Electricity data also showed a perceptible increase in demand after lockdown measures were eased in end-May with the energy-met trend line almost crossing last year’s levels on May 25.
But the trend line for this year subsequently dropped sharply and continues to stay below last year’s levels, according to data from grid operator Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO).
Energy consumption has remained around an average level of 3,600 GWh in the last week of June as against a level upwards of 3,900 GWh during the same period last year, with industrial load continuing to be sub-optimal, a POSOCO official said.
The hiring activity in the economy has also failed to pick-up, with two different trackers pointing to the same trend. As per the Naukri JobSpeak Index, a monthly index for hiring activity based on the job listings on Naukri.com website, a month-on-month improvement was seen in the hiring activity rising by 33 per cent in June (sequential improvement over May), even as it remained 44 per cent lower than the same period last year.
The decline in hiring activity was highest for Mumbai and Delhi at 56 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively.
Data from CMIE on the number of stalled projects across the country showed that 569 large projects worth Rs 8.7 trillion were recorded as being stalled in the last week of March 2020 because of the lockdown. Of these 569 stalled projects, less than half — 259 projects worth Rs 4.9 trillion — have started project implementation again by June.
Payment transactions too fell massively across the country in April. Latest RBI data shows that the overall value of transactions contracted by 46 per cent in April over March, with transactions and payments through various banking channels — cheques, NEFT and RTGS, and ATM withdrawal, falling between 26 per cent and 71 per cent in April over March. The data for the period post April is awaited.
All of this has ended up impacting the government’s revenue streams, with direct taxes declining by over 30 per cent in the first quarter and GST revenues declining by 41 per cent. Even though month-on-month collections under GST improved in June to Rs 99,940 crore from Rs 32,394 crore in April, the recovery has been partly due to delayed payments due from previous months after deadlines were extended.
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