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‘Lockdown takes toll on 18.9 mn salaried jobs, informal sector shows silver lining’

The plight of salaried employees has worsened since the lockdown, with a loss of 17.7 million salaried jobs in April, additional 0.1 million jobs in May, followed by gain of 3.9 million jobs in June and then again loss of 5 million jobs in July, it said.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: August 19, 2020 10:10:52 am
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Salaried jobs suffered the biggest hit during the lockdown, with total loss estimated to be at 18.9 million during April-July, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has said. The plight of salaried employees has worsened since the lockdown, with a loss of 17.7 million salaried jobs in April, additional 0.1 million jobs in May, followed by gain of 3.9 million jobs in June and then again loss of 5 million jobs in July, it said.

“While salaried jobs are not lost easily, once lost they are also far more difficult to retrieve. Therefore, their ballooning numbers are a source of worry. Salaried jobs were nearly 19 million short of their average in 2019-20. They were 22 per cent lower than their level in the last fiscal year,” it said.

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Informal and non-salaried jobs, however, have shown improvement during the same period increasing to 325.6 million in July from 317.6 million last year, an increase of 2.5 per cent, it said.

Small traders, hawkers and daily wage labourers were the worst hit by the lockdown in April, comprising 91.2 million of the jobs lost from the total loss of 121.5 million in that month. “This category of employment accounted for about 32 per cent of the total employment but, it suffered 75 per cent of the hit in April. Large numbers of these people lost their source of livelihood so quickly because their employment is almost entirely informal,” CMIE said.

Of the 91.2 million such jobs lost in April, 14.4 million came back in May, 44.5 million in June and 25.5 million in July. Only 6.8 million remain to return, it added.

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Job losses of salaried workers accounted for 15 per cent of job losses in April. Only 21 per cent of all employment in India is in form of a salaried employment, CMIE said. Salaried jobs, which offer better terms of employment and better wages, have a higher share in urban parts of the country than rural parts. “Loss of these urban salaried jobs is, therefore, likely to have a particular debilitating impact on the economy, besides causing immediate hardship to middle-class households,” it said. Of the 86 million salaried jobs in 2019-20, 58 per cent were in urban India and 42 per cent in rural India, it said.

In case of farm employment, a sharp rise was seen in June to 130 million, with good rains and the consequent sowing absorbing a lot of the labour that was lost in non-farm sectors. Farm employment remained high in July at 126 million, CMIE said. It, however, said even though it is “tempting to conjecture that the 4 million fall in farm employment indicates reverse migration. But, there is no data to support such an inference”.

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