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Pronab Sen, principal advisor at the Planning Commission, says employment data being available only once in five years is in a sense the weakest part of the Indian statistical system. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
Pronab Sen, principal advisor at the Planning Commission, says employment data being available only once in five years is in a sense the weakest part of the Indian statistical system. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Jobs data may be released quarterly

Encouraging results from a pilot survey indicate data for urban areas may be available on a quarterly basis

By Kirthi.V.Raokirthi.r@livemint.com

NEW DELHI

New Delhi: Encouraging results from a pilot labour force survey by the government’s statistics ministry indicate that employment data for urban areas may be available on a quarterly basis in the next couple of years.

Currently, jobs data is provided by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), which conducts five-yearly household surveys, and the Labour Bureau’s annual employment survey and quarterly enterprise-based surveys.

The latest annual survey by the Labour Bureau has shown India’s unemployment rate at 3.8%. The NSSO had pegged the rate at 2% for 2009-10.

Lack of more frequent and comparable data on the state of employment in the country has impeded efficient policy making. The current pilot surveys are intended to plug that gap. The pilot survey by NSSO, which tested the ability to conduct quarterly labour force surveys, showed that it was possible to do so provided some technical and logistical issues are dealt with, chief statistician of India T.C.A. Anantsaid.

Pronab Sen, principal advisor at the Planning Commission and a former chief statistician, said employment data being available only once in five years is in a sense the weakest part of the Indian statistical system.

“We need this information annually, preferably quarterly, for much of the employment picture gets missed over five years," Sen said.

Given the large informal sector in India, the household-based information that the quarterly NSSO survey will provide will be better than enterprise-based quarterly data of the Labour Bureau, Sen said.

Moreover, the system followed by the Labour Bureau survey has not been approved by the National Statistical Commission (NSC), which lays down and enforces priorities and standards of statistical information collection in India.

“While the Labour Bureau’s surveys are welcome, their methodology has not been submitted for review," NSC chairman Sudipto Mundle said.

Many technical and logistical issues have to be sorted out before a decision is taken to conduct a quarterly NSSO survey on a regular basis, Anant said. Also, the method will need NSC’s nod once the issues are cleared.

“Bringing out the quarterly data is still a long-haul matter. Maybe, we can have these higher frequency surveys regularly in the next two to three years," Mundle said.

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