TIO: New Delhi, May 31
India’s unemployment rose to a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18 and economic growth fell to a five-year low in 2018-19, official data released on Friday shows, a week after Narendra Modi’s government swept back to power.
The data released by the government on a day when ministers of the Narendra Modi cabinet took charge showed 7.8 per cent of all employable urban youth being jobless, while the percentage for the rural was 5.3 per cent.
The joblessness among male on all-India basis was 6.2 per cent, while it was 5.7 per cent in case of females.
It also showed that the unemployment rate for males was higher at 7.1 per cent in cities compared to 5.8 per cent in rural areas.
Similarly, the joblessness for women was also higher in urban areas at 10.8 per cent compared to 3.8 per cent in rural areas.
The unemployment figures assume greater importance given the controversy that surrounds them, and gives credence to a data leak in January. A news report quoting National Sample Survey Office said that government data showed unemployment was 6.1 per cent, prompting the Niti Aayog to hold a press conference to dismiss the figure as “not final”.
The Opposition accused the central government of withholding data until elections—a charge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dispensation had then denied.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Democratic Alliance government rode the “Modi wave” to power with an astounding majority of 351 of the Lok Sabha’s 543 seats.
However, releasing the survey report after taking into account the expert committee recommendations, Statistics Secretary Pravin Srivastava told a reporter: “It is a new design and a new matrix. It would be unfair to compare it with the past. This 45- year high is your interpretation. I don’t want to claim that it is 45-year low or high”.
Elaborating further, he said: “The point is that it is a different matrix. From 2017-18 onwards, you will be getting regular estimates and this (labour force survey) can be used as a base. When we change the matrix, it is very difficult to measure (compare) because there is no means to do a retrospective analysis in that year based on earlier matrix”.
The ministry said the PLFS needs to be seen as a new series for measuring employment and unemployment on an annual basis. It is important to note that with the rise in education levels in the economy and rise in household income levels, the aspiration levels of educated youth have also risen.
Thus they may no longer be willing to join the labour force or workforce requiring low skills and low remuneration. The PLFS results give the distribution of educated and unemployed persons across the country which can be used as a basis for skilling, of youth to make them more employable by industry, it said.
About the National Statistical Commission (NSC), Srivastava said: “The NSC makes its recommendation but the ministry has to consider it. They can only make recommendations. The NSC has the role to see the statistical system in entirety in addition to statistics ministry and states. There is no change in the functioning of the ministry. The restructuring of ministry was approved by the Cabinet”.
He also said: “The data for PLFS for January to March will be released next month. We have brought two quarterly data on labour survey. We are coming out with consumption expenditure survey for 2017-18. We are expecting it in June. You can then compare unemployment captured by that survey with PLFS”.
In bad news for the new government on day one, CSO data showed that economic growth slowed to a 5-year low of 5.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018-19, pushing India behind China, due to a poor showing by agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The growth of the eight core sector industries during April too witnessed a slowdown. The expansion was at the rate of 2.6 per cent. These industries contribute about 40 per cent to the overall factory output of the country.
There was, however, some relief on the front of government finances as the fiscal deficit for 2018-19 remained within the revised Budget target of 3.4 per cent of the GDP.
Meanwhile, the government announced a slew of measures like extending the Rs 6,000 annual support to all farmers besides a pension scheme for farmers to bolster the agriculture sector.
Commenting on the GDP data, Economic Affairs Secretary S C Garg said the slowdown in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal was due to temporary factors like stress in the NBFC segment. He also underscored that the economic activity may also remain sluggish during the April-June quarter of the current fiscal before picking up in the subsequent months.
The CSO data on national income revealed that the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for fiscal 2018-19 (at 2011-12 prices) too was at a five-year low of 6.8 per cent. The GDP growth was 7.2 per cent in 2017-18.
Garg said that on the basis of the annual growth rate of even 6.8 per cent, India continues to remain the world’s fastest-growing major economy.
The GDP in the fourth quarter of the fiscal ending March 2019 was 5.8 per cent, lower than 6.4 per cent growth posted by China in January-March 2019 quarter, thus losing the world’s fastest major economy tag.
The CSO data showed that Gross Value Addition (GVA) decelerated to 5.7 per cent in fourth quarter from 7.9 per cent in January-March 2017-18.
The decline in the economic activity has been mainly on account of steep decline in growth in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The GVA in agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors contracted by 0.1 per cent as against an expansion of 6.5 per cent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2017-18.
The slowdown was quite steep in the key manufacturing segment as the GVA expansion was meager 3.1 per cent down from 9.5 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2017-18.
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The ‘financial, real estate and professional services’ segment, however, showed improvement with the growth rate moving up to 9.5 per cent in the last quarter of 2018-19 from 5.5 per cent in the comparable period of the preceding fiscal.
On annual estimates of expenditures of GDP, 2018-19, the CSO said the rates of Private Final Consumption
Expenditure (PFCE) at current and constant (2011-12) prices during 2018-19 are estimated at 59.4 per cent and 56.9 per cent, respectively, as against the corresponding rates of 59 per cent and 56.3 per cent, respectively in 2017-18. In terms of GDP, the rates of Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) at current and constant (2011-12) prices during 2018-19 have been estimated at 29.3 per cent and 32.3 per cent, respectively, as against the corresponding rates of 28.6 per cent and 31.4 per cent, respectively, in 2017-18.
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As per the CSO, India’s per capita income estimated to have risen by 10 per cent to Rs 10,534 a month during fiscal ended March 2019, government data on national income showed Friday.
In preceding fiscal 2017-18, the monthly per capita income stood at Rs 9,580.
The per capita income at current prices during 2018-19 is estimated to have attained a level of Rs 1,26,406 (Rs 10,533.83 monthly) as compared to the estimated for the year 2017-18 of Rs 1,14,958 (Rs 9,579.83 a month).
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As per the periodic labour force survey released by the CSO, the unemployment rate was 6.1 per cent during 2017-18.
Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava, however, played down the latest survey saying it cannot be compared with previous surveys. Agencies
Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi