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Monday, April 19, 2021

Govt must look into scheme for those who lost jobs amid lockdown: Report

Survey finds alarming surge in city’s unemployment rate during pandemic-induced lockdown

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
March 19, 2021 1:22:07 am
Pandemic lessons learnt, database on migrant labour may be ready by JuneMigrant labourers leaving Delhi after the lockdown last year. (Archive)

The Delhi government should consider launching a scheme guaranteeing jobs at a fixed minimum daily wage to tackle the alarming surge in the city’s unemployment rate during the pandemic-induced lockdown, according to an official document.

As reported by The Indian Express on Thursday, the unemployment rate in Delhi rose from 11.1% in January-February 2020 to 28.5% in October-November, according to a Delhi government-commissioned survey. It also found that women have been hit particularly hard in terms of job losses.

The survey, prepared jointly by the Delhi Directorate of Economics and Statistics and the Centre for Market Research and Social Development, also includes separate sections listing a series of recommendations and “potential policy responses” to address unemployment challenges.

The proposal on the jobs guarantee scheme finds mention as a recommendation as well as in the segment on the “potential policy responses” section, where the report touches upon the steps taken or being considered by the government to tackle the issue.

It says the government is planning to launch a scheme to provide guaranteed jobs for a few months in a year at minimum wages of Rs 569 per day to one adult member of a household in Delhi. “Delhi government’s plan to implement the guaranteed jobs scheme to help those facing difficulty in finding work must be introduced immediately since majority of the respondents have shown their interest to get job under this scheme. This will definitely benefit unemployed persons of Delhi who lost employment during Covid-19 pandemic,” the report states.

It adds that such jobs would not be permanent in nature or entitle the beneficiaries to any pension. To be sure, the Delhi government has not made any allocation for this proposed scheme in its Rs 69,000 crore annual budget for the year 2021-22 presented last week.

Economist Jean Dreze, one of the architects of the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, had last September proposed that an urban jobs guarantee scheme should be considered to help people tide over the widespread lockdown-induced distress.

The survey, which had a sample size of 44,226 of which 32,052 people were aged 15 and above, also sought to gauge the potential demand for such a scheme among the people and found there are many takers for it. The sample size had representations from all the 11 districts of the national capital.

It found that 73% unemployed people were keen to register under the proposed scheme. Asked about the type of job they would like to sign up for, most preferred among men was construction work and plantation, while in the case of women, most picked provisioning of care for children and construction work, says the report.

The preferred choices of jobs are in line with another crucial finding of the survey that “the unemployment rate increased more among the illiterates and less educated both in males and females compared to the more educated males and females”.

Apart from construction work (31%) and child care (13%), there’s demand for openings in the areas of driving, teaching, electrician, beautician, tailoring, cooking (20%) as well, the report notes.

It stresses that the implementation of the proposed scheme is “very much needed to revive the economy of Delhi which was deeply affected by corona”.

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