Published: Fri, February 01, 2019
Business | By Pearl Harrison

India’s unemployment rate highest in 45 years

India’s unemployment rate highest in 45 years

NITI Aayog Vice Chairperson Rajiv Kumar and CEO Amitabh Kant on Thursday, 31 January, addressed a press conference over the controversy surrounding unemployment data and said that the numbers released were "not verified nor final".

The CPI (M) has alleged that the latest NSSO data on employment had been suppressed by the government as it showed joblessness had reached a four-decade high post-demonetisation and demanded that all such data be released immediately. When the data is ready we will release it. Data collection method is different now; we are using a computer assisted personal interviewee in the new survey.

This data was collected by the NSSO between July 2017 and June 2018 - and is the first official survey that at the country's employment situation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of high-value currency notes in November 2016.

NITI Aayog has said that a yet-to-be-released report that says the country's unemployment rate rose to a 45-year-high in 2017-18 is "not verified".

It also said that unemployment was higher in the urban areas (7.8 per cent) than in the rural areas (5.3 per cent). "The government has to make the data public as soon as possible", added Anamitra Roy Chowdhury, a labour economist with the Centre for Informal Sector & Labour Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The BJP retort came after Gandhi attacked Modi over employment generation, saying he had promised two crore jobs, but five years later a "leaked job creation report card" had revealed a "national disaster". "I do not want to comment on it", Pravin Srivastava, India's chief statistician, told Reuters.

"We have not released the report".

The gloomy jobs data could be awkward for Modi's Hindu nationalist government to explain with a general election looming and opinion polls already showing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party would be unlikely to keep its parliamentary majority.

The report said that joblessness stood at 7.8 percent in urban areas compared with 5.3 parts in the countryside. The unemployment rate was at its highest level since 1972-73 - a period from when the jobs data is comparable, the news agency quoted as saying.

Earlier this month, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a leading independent think-tank, said the country lost as many as 11 million jobs previous year.

"News and data like thousands of PhDs applying for waiter jobs in Mumbai or millions applying for just a thousand jobs in Gujarat or 10 million applying for a small number of jobs in railways", he said.

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