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Explained: Post-pandemic job survey in Delhi, and what it says on female participation in workforce

A Delhi government-commissioned employment survey has captured the severity of the job crisis plaguing the national capital. What is the highlight of the report? What does it say on female participation in the workforce?

Written by Sourav Roy Barman , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 18, 2021 4:35:21 pm
The survey found a sharp surge in the unemployment rate of Delhi (Representational Image)

A Delhi government-commissioned employment survey, carried out between September-November 2020, has captured the severity of the job crisis plaguing the national capital, which continues to reel under the impact of the pandemic and the consequent lockdown which was eased over months.

The survey found a sharp surge in the unemployment rate of Delhi, from 11.1 per cent in January-February 2020 to 28.5 per cent in October-November, and a drastic dip in the share of women in the workforce, including a large percentage of graduates and postgraduates.

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The survey had a sample size of 44,226 of which 32,052 people were aged 15 and above. The report has been jointly prepared by the Delhi Directorate of Economics and Statistics and the Centre for Market Research and Social Development.

What is the highlight of the survey report?

It found that the unemployment rate in Delhi was 11.1 per cent in January-February 2020 and 28.5 per cent in October-November, which amounts to a rise of 17.4 percentage points within eight months when the country went through several rounds of lockdown and unlock, which left the economy battered.

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Historically, what has been Delhi’s unemployment rate?

While the Delhi government did not undertake any such focused study to ascertain the level of employment and unemployment in the city before, numbers from other surveys, including those carried out by the National Statistical Commission (NSC), can act as reference points. For example, the second periodic labour force survey conducted during July 2018 to June 2019 had found that the unemployment rate in Delhi during the aforesaid period was 10.4, largely in line with the pre-corona numbers of the Delhi government survey.

What does the survey say on female participation in the workforce?

The survey clearly revealed that the pandemic and the lockdown has dealt a severe blow to the share of women in the workforce, pushing up the unemployment rate in this category to 54.7 per cent from 25.6 per cent. However, the report noted with concern that as much as 83.1 per cent female respondents contacted for the survey were out of the labour force altogether. The corresponding figure is 31.6 per cent in case of men. Among the 83 per cent women unemployed and unavailable for work, 16.6 per cent are graduates, 27.6 per cent have cleared Class 12 and 23.8 per cent have studied till Class 10.

What is the meaning of ‘out of labour force’?

To understand this, one needs to first know the meaning of ‘labour force’. It is a term used to refer to people who are either employed or unemployed but seeking work. ‘Out of labour force’ refers to those who are not just unemployed but also not looking for any work. This usually refers to students, pensioners, people making do with earnings as a landlord. However, in case of women, the more likely explanation is that a large majority remains engaged in domestic duties. The survey has recommended that a deeper study be carried out to go deeper into the issue.

Are some sectors worse off than others?

Yes, going by the numbers shared in the report, the percentage of reduction in employment in various top sectors are: Specialized construction activities (43%), food and beverage service activities (31%), education sector (30%), wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (25%), information service activities (22%), manufacture of wearing apparel (16%) among others.

How much are those with jobs earning?

Among those employed, seven per cent were earning less than Rs 5,000 a month in January-February. Their share rose to 13 per cent by October and the share of those earning between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 a month dropped from 30 per cent to 20 per cent. Also, 20 per cent of total employed respondents were found engaged in jobs with regular wages in the private sector, seven per cent were casual labourers, and two per cent each in the government and agriculture sector.

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