In April 2017, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) launched the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) with the primary objective of providing more frequent and detailed labor force data for policymakers, researchers, and the general public. This survey is a significant initiative that aims to estimate key employment and unemployment indicators in both rural and urban areas across India.
The PLFS Dual-Track Approach
The PLFS operates on a dual track, with a short time interval of three months for urban areas, focusing on the ‘Current Weekly Status’ (CWS), and an annual assessment for both ‘Usual Status’ (ps+ss) and CWS in both rural and urban regions.
The Two-Fold Objective of PLFS
1. Frequent Estimation for Urban Areas in CWS (Current Weekly Status)
Worker Population Ratio: The Worker Population Ratio is a vital indicator that calculates the proportion of the working-age population currently employed in urban areas. Frequent estimations provide a dynamic picture of workforce participation.
Labour Force Participation Rate: This metric examines the proportion of the working-age population actively participating in the labor market in urban areas. It reflects the willingness of individuals to engage in economic activities.
Unemployment Rate: The unemployment rate in urban areas is a critical measure of joblessness and labor market dynamics. Regular assessment of this metric helps in understanding employment trends.
2. Comprehensive Annual Reports for Both Rural and Urban Areas
Usual Status (ps+ss): The PLFS provides annual data on the usual employment status, which includes both principal and subsidiary status. This data is essential for understanding the long-term employment structure in the labor force.
Current Weekly Status (CWS): An annual report also covers the employment and unemployment indicators in the ‘Current Weekly Status’ for both rural and urban areas. CWS data is significant for assessing the short-term labor market situation.
The PLFS Annual Reports
Since its inception in 2017, the Periodic Labour Force Survey has produced five annual reports, covering both rural and urban areas. These reports have played a crucial role in shedding light on the labor market dynamics in India. The data collected in these reports encompasses various periods, namely:
July 2017 – June 2018: The inaugural year of the PLFS, which set the foundation for future data collection and analysis.
July 2018 – June 2019: Building upon the first year, this report provided insights into labor market changes over a more extended period.
July 2019 – June 2020: This report was particularly significant as it covered a period marked by economic challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 2020 – June 2021: As the world navigated the pandemic’s impact, this report offered valuable information on how it affected employment and unemployment.
July 2021 – June 2022: The most recent report was written, capturing data post-pandemic and assessing recovery efforts.
Sample Design of PLFS
The PLFS utilizes a rotational panel sampling design for urban areas, which enhances the comprehensiveness of data collection. In this design:
- Every chosen urban household is visited on a total of four occasions.
- Initially as part of the ‘First Visit Schedule,’ followed by three subsequent visits at intervals as per the ‘Revisit Schedule.’
In urban areas, samples for a panel within each stratum were drawn as two independent sub-samples. This approach ensures that 75% of the first-stage sampling units (FSUs) are matched between two consecutive visits, providing a more detailed and continuous view of the urban labor market.
In contrast, the rural samples follow a different approach:
- No revisit is conducted in rural samples.
- For rural areas, samples for a stratum/sub-stratum were randomly drawn in the form of two independent sub-samples.
- Over the course of the survey period, 25% of FSUs from the annual allocation were covered each quarter, allowing for periodic and representative data collection in rural regions.
The sample design for PLFS combines both depth and breadth, enabling the survey to capture the dynamic nature of labor market trends across different regions, ensuring that policymakers and researchers have access to high-quality labor force data.