Alongside the problem of bad loans, the issue of job creation remains the biggest challenge for the government as it takes stock of 12 months since demonetisation, with varied data sets pointing to the continuing lack of employment opportunities for India’s rising workforce.
Fresh data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) estimate that about 1.5 million jobs were lost during January-April 2017, even as employment figures of leading listed companies show that a majority of them have seen a net decline in their employment numbers in 2016-17 as against that in previous years.
While the foremost challenge in assessing the unemployment problem is lack of comprehensive data, the quarterly Labour Bureau employment survey also reflect a sharp decline in jobs after the government banned old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 on November 8 last year.
According to CMIE data, the estimated total employment during January-April 2017 was 405 million compared to 406.5 million during the preceding four months, September-December 2016. The CMIE data, based on all-India household surveys over a sample size of 161,167 households that included 519,285 adults, also estimated that while the number of persons employed fell by 1.5 million during January-April 2017 period, the number of people who declared themselves unemployed fell much more — by 9.6 million.
This lack of job opportunities is mirrored in the data sets for the government’s flagship skilling scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). Data for the PMKVY scheme until the first week of July 2017 has revealed that of the total 30.67 lakh candidates who had been trained or were undergoing training across the country, less than a tenth — 2.9 lakh candidates — had received placement offers, according to official data with the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.
Employment figures of leading listed companies, examined by The Indian Express, show that a majority of them have seen a net decline in their employment numbers in 2016-17 over that in previous years. Job data for 121 companies — excluding IT and financial services sector — that are part of BSE 500, and for whom numbers were available for last three years, show a net aggregate decline in headcount for the second consecutive year.
For the set of 107 companies, there has been a net decline of 14,668 employees. While the employee numbers stood at 684,452 at the end of March 2015, it came down to 677,296 at the end of March 2016 and then to 669,784 at the end of March 2017. Some of the large companies that witnessed notable decline in their employee numbers were L&T (1,888), Hindustan Unilever (1,453), Idea Cellular (707), ACC (535), Tata Motors (534), Tata Steel (450), Hindalco (439) and Titan Industries (422) among others.
Several companies in sectors such as pharmaceutical and automobile, however, bucked the trend and saw a net addition to their employee numbers during the year. The biggest addition was seen in Abbott India that added a net of 3,127 employees during the year followed by Sun Pharmaceuticals, which added 2,769 employees. Vedanta added 2,489 employees during the year. In line with the rise in sales of cars and other automobiles, five leading automobile players Ashok Leyland, Maruti Suzuki India, Hero MotoCorp, Eicher Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra added a net of 3,142 employees during the year.
As per the latest available Labour Bureau’s Quarterly Employment Survey for October-December last year, as many as 1.52 lakh casual and 46,000 part-time jobs were lost in eight key sectors of the economy, despite an overall addition of 1.22 lakh workers during the quarter.
The overall addition in jobs in eight key sectors — Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education, Health, Accommodation & Restaurants and IT/ BPO — was recorded at 32,000 jobs in July-September 2016 and 77,000 jobs in April-June 2016. Fresh data for the subsequent quarters have not been released by the Labour Bureau.
The Quarterly Employment Survey for October-December 2016, which included the demonetisation period, showed that the maximum decrease of casual jobs was in the manufacturing sector (1.13 lakh), followed by IT/BPO sector (20,000). The loss of part-time work was also highest in manufacturing. Overall, however, there were positive changes in manufacturing (83,000), trade (7,000), transport (1,000), IT/BPO sector (12,000), education (18,000) and health (2,000), according to the survey.