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Increasing Regular Jobs but Lingering Unemployment Concerns: Report

In a recent report titled “State of Working India 2023: Social Identities and Labour Market Outcomes,” a group of economists and researchers from Azim Premji University shed light on the employment landscape in India. This report highlights the dynamics of job creation, the prevalence of regular wage jobs, caste-based segregation, gender-based earnings disparities, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on unemployment rates. Let’s delve into the key findings of the report.

1. Growth in Regular Jobs

The report reveals that from 2004 to 2017, India witnessed an annual creation of three million regular jobs. However, between 2017 and 2019, this figure surged to five million jobs, indicating a positive trend in employment opportunities.

2. Diminished Pace Since 2019

Despite the initial growth, the report underlines a significant slowdown in the creation of regular wage jobs since 2019. This deceleration is attributed to economic slowdown and the disruptive effects of the pandemic.

3. Limited Social Security

One concerning aspect is that only 6% of these regular jobs provide any form of social security, including health insurance or accidental care insurance. This raises questions about the stability and well-being of the workforce.

4. Gender Disparities

Over the years, there has been a positive shift in gender representation in regular jobs. The proportion of men in such roles increased from 18% to 25%, and for women, it rose from 10% to 25%. This indicates progress in gender inclusivity in the workforce.

5. Reduction in Caste-based Segregation

The report highlights a decrease in caste-based segregation in employment. In 2004, over 80% of sons of casual wage workers remained in casual employment, but this figure decreased to 53% for non-SC/ST castes by 2018. This suggests a decline in caste-related employment disparities.

6. Earnings Disparities

Gender-based earnings disparities have reduced over the past two decades. In 2004, women in salaried positions earned 70% of what men earned. By 2017, this gap had narrowed, with women earning 76% of men’s earnings. This trend has remained relatively constant up to 2021-22.

7. Post-COVID Unemployment

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the report notes that the unemployment rate in India was lower than pre-pandemic levels for all education levels. However, the unemployment rate for graduates, particularly those under 25 years old, remains a concern, touching a significant 42%. Additionally, the report highlights a distress-led increase in self-employment among women, with 60% of women being self-employed post-COVID. This shift has resulted in a decline in real earnings from self-employment.

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