The study notes that many of India’s unemployed are the young, or have a degree.

50 lakh Indian men lost jobs lost between 2016-18 Azim Premji University reportRepresentational image/PTI
Money Economy Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 20:49

Indian men lost fifty lakh jobs between 2016 and 2018 alone, according to a Consumer Pyramids Survey done by Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE). This was highlighted in the State of Working India 2019 report, released on Tuesday by Azim Premji University.

“The timing of the start of the decline coincides with the demonetisation of high-value currency notes in November 2016, although we cannot ascribe any causal link based only on these trends,” the study notes. The number of job losses is likely to be more if women are included.

The 50 lakh number was calculated based on the male working-age population as stated by the United Nations’ Department of Economics and Social Affairs (UN DESA) 2017 data and was compared to the dip in the workforce participation rate.

CMIE is a private market information company which conducts the country’s only comprehensive household-level labour survey in the absence of any official data. The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-18 is yet to be released by the government.


The study notes that many of India’s unemployed are the young, or have a degree.

Among urban women, 10% of the working-age population are graduates, but 34% of the unemployed. The age group 20-24 years is disproportionately large among the unemployed. Among urban men, for example, the 20-24 age bracket accounts for 13.5% of the working-age population, but 60% are unemployed.

“The overall unemployment is likely to be driven by what is happening to the educated section of the labour force. This is because it is this section which tends to aspire to a regular, formal sector job and who can ‘afford’ the luxury of being unemployed,” the report states.  

As per the report, unemployment amongst the educated stood at just over 10% in 1999 when the overall unemployment rate was 2.7%. “It has increased since 2011 to around 15-16 per cent,” says the report.

Another important point the study makes is that overall unemployment and the rate of educated unemployed tends to be much higher for women compared to men. They have higher unemployment rates as well as lower labour force participation rates.

Overall unemployment among the educated tends to be much higher for women compared to men. This finding was constant in multiple surveys and is likely to be a stable feature of the labour market.

Starting from 2004-05 to 2018, the overall unemployment rate among women has been constantly higher than men. The peak was in 2016 when unemployment was 22.4% for women versus 5.5% for men.

The disparity between men and women when it comes to the unemployment of the educated labour market has been a trend since 1999-00 to 2018.

Policy suggestions

The study advocates for an additional Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme and other policy measures to solve the job crisis, both in terms of quality and quantity.

Other than the urban employment scheme, the study suggests a Universal Basic Services guarantee and suggests that an employment-oriented framework for industry and fiscal policy will alleviate the current situation.

This report comes after Business Standard’s Somesh Jha reported in January that unemployment was at a 45-year high, based on a leaked report of the National Sample Survey Office's Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS).

While the government and Niti Aayog refuted the findings of the report and said that it was a draft, Somesh Jha’s report stated that the leaked report was approved by the government standing committee and the National Statistical Commission.

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