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Firms hiring again: labour ministry study

Firms hiring again: labour ministry study

New Delhi: Indian companies may have started hiring again, according to government data released on Monday that seems to lend credence to the so-called green shoots theory, which speaks about the growing revival—at least in a few areas of the economy.

The data is from a survey carried out by the Union labour ministry to assess the impact of the ongoing economic slowdown on India, and it shows that employment in eight identified sectors increased by 280,000 between January and March.

A similar survey carried out by the ministry last year had shown that around 500,000 jobs had been lost between October and December 2008. A follow-up survey carried out in January this year showed a fall of another 100,000 jobs.

The new survey shows that jobs have been created in businesses such as gems and jewellery, textiles, information technology, and handloom.

To be sure, it is likely that many of the jobs lost last year were also in companies in these businesses, in which case they might just be hiring again to meet renewed demand from at least some international markets.

Analysts have said that this is indeed happening in parts of Europe where inventories at the store level have finally been exhausted. And demand in India also seems to have recovered to some extent.

This is also evident in the numbers. While the number of jobs in the sectors covered by the survey increased to 15.72 million in March, this remained lower than the 16.2 million people employed in these businesses in September 2008.

According to the survey, the number of jobs has increased by 3.08% in the gems and jewellery business; by 0.96% in textiles; by 0.83% in information technology; 0.28% in handloom and 0.1% in automobiles.

However, the number of jobs has dropped in leather (2.76%), metals (0.56%) and transport (0.36%) sectors.

“It’s a good sign," said Sudha Pillai, secretary in the labour ministry, adding that the sector left out of the survey was construction because of lack of data.

The latest survey was conducted across 3,192 units, including companies that cater to export markets and those that sell within the country. Jobs in companies that cater to the domestic market grew 0.92%, while export-oriented firms saw just a 0.28% rise in the number of jobs.

The survey isn’t representative, said agriculture and labour expert, and Mint columnist Himanshu, who teaches at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and uses only one name. He said the survey covers only the organized sector, which employs just 8% of India’s 457 million workers.


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