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  • NSSO 66th round


  • There has been hardly any change in the size of the workforce in the country
  • Decline in the employment in the rural areas, led by a sharp fall in the employment of rural females
    • Significant decline in the labour force participation rate, particularly for women
    • Possible explanations
    • More people are pursuing higher education


Between 2004-05 and 2009-10, for all persons above 15 years of age, employment of all kinds (including self-employment, part-time work, home-based work, and so on) – in terms of the principal activity – increased at an annual compound rate of 0.82 per cent, compared with 2.7 per cent in the previous period.

Total female employment actually fell, mostly because of a massive decline in self-employment. The general decline in self-employment also calls into question the future viability of petty self-employment in low-grade manufacturing. Insofar as regular employment of women has increased, in both urban and rural areas, it has been dominated by “domestic service”, which can hardly be seen as a desirable expansion of productive activity reflecting economic boom.

This is a huge concern because creation of “good quality” jobs is the most important mechanism in making aggregate economic growth “inclusive” as desired, for example, by the Eleventh Plan.

One reason for employment growing more slowly in the most recent period is actually the increasing involvement of young men and women in the higher stages of education. While this is good news, it also means that there will be more and more young people entering the labour market with higher qualifications, expecting to find employment that is commensurate with their education.

if employment is indeed to become a central goal of economic policy, a more proactive role is required in general

The first and most obvious requirement is that employment data should actually be collected at more frequent intervals. It is extraordinary that reliable employment data are generated only once in every five years through large surveys of the NSSO and through the Census (once in 10 years), and then made available only after a very substantial time lag. Compare this to the release of quarterly data on GDP, compiling which is surely much more complex to estimate and requires many more assumptions to be made.

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