There is some relief on the employment front at a time when the world is battling to get back on its feet and the global economy is only starting to improve. The country’s unemployment rate has decreased. After the second wave of the pandemic subsided, the unemployment rate in urban India fell for the third quarter in a row, from 12.6% in the April-June quarter to 8.2% in the January-March quarter of 2021–2022. This is down from 8.7% in the October–December quarter, 9.8% in the July–September quarter, and 9.8% in the April–December quarter. In the equivalent quarter of 2020–21, it was 9.3 percent. According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for 2020–21, which was published earlier this week by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. This indicates that only 4.2% of adults who searched for employment in rural and urban parts of the nation in 2020–21 were unable to find any. Urban areas had an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, while rural areas had a rate of 3.3 percent. The data confirmed the trend witnessed over the previous few quarters, with the male urban unemployment rate for the time being 7.7 percent while the female urban unemployment rate was higher at 10.1 percent. According to the poll, the rate of people of all ages who were in the labour force was 47.3 percent in the January–March quarter, 46.9 percent in the July–September quarter, and 46.8 percent in the April–June quarter of 2021. The labour force participation rate was 47.5 percent in the same quarter of 2020–21. According to CWS, the labour force is the total number of people who were, on average, employed or jobless during the week before the survey date. The percentage of the population that is employed is known as the LFPR.
Although the employment landscape improved overall, low-quality, unpaid labour increased. In 2020–21, employment in the category of unpaid self-employed workers increased again, rising to 17.3% from 15.9% in 2019–20 and 13.3% in 2018–19. Unpaid employment in rural regions increased as well, rising to 21.3% in 2020–21 from 20.0% the year before, while it increased to 6.3% in urban areas from 5.7%. In rural areas, female unpaid self-employment climbed to 42.8% in 2020–21 from 42.3% the previous year, while male unpaid self-employment increased to 11.0% from 10.4%. Unpaid self-employment among women in metropolitan areas climbed significantly from 11.1 percent in 2019–20 to 12.4 percent in 2020–21, while it increased for men from 4.1 percent to 4.5 percent. According to the PLFS data, the proportion of the labour force working in agriculture increased in 2020–21, rising to 46.5% from 45.6% in 2019–20 and 42.5% in 2018–19. This represents a reversal of the long-term fall in the proportion of the labour force working in agriculture. This shows that the economic slowdown and the pandemic appear to have halted the transfer of labour out of agriculture, which had picked up speed after 2004–2005. The strain on agriculture to take in the employees would have only risen if there had been a reverse flow of labour from cities to villages. There are still a few significant issues, though, that require rapid action. For individuals working paid employment or for themselves, wage rates have remained lower than they were before to the pandemic, with some rises occurring in the year that followed the virus’s lockdown-driven days. It is obvious that the government must approach both the problem of unemployment and, consequently, the question of the quality of employment, on a war footing.