The decision comes even as key national socio-economic surveys were suspended due to surging infections, possibly delaying a national employment policy
Rather than wait for things to normalize, the government has decided to proceed with its quarterly employment survey, moving it online in a significantly expanded version to gauge the impact of the covid pandemic on jobs.
The decision comes even as key national socio-economic surveys were suspended due to surging infections, possibly delaying a national employment policy. Four national surveys on migrants, domestic workers and jobs generated by the transport sector and professionals have been suspended. All four were to happen for the first time.
The fifth, the quarterly employment survey or QES, will go ahead but will be conducted online, according to two government officials. The QES, which is being revived after a gap of nearly four years, beginning the first quarter of FY22, is normally a physical establishment-based survey with a larger company and sectoral footprint. The outcome of the online survey will be released by July-end.
“While four have been put on hold, we are going ahead with the fifth one, which is QES. But physical establishments and factory visits will not happen this time," said D.P.S. Negi, director-general of the Labour Bureau.
The bureau is the data and survey wing of the Union labour and employment ministry and is in charge of conducting social-economic surveys as well as the QES.
“We have collected information from the companies, factories through our channels and through the labour law compliance returns. The survey will happen remotely via online and telephone. It’s not ideal, but given the healthcare crisis, it is better to do QES remotely without putting surveyors’ health and well-being at stake," said Negi, also the chief labour commissioner (central).
The lack of jobs has been a prickly issue, with employment generation failing to keep pace with demand—even before the pandemic. Post the covid-19 outbreak, both formal and informal labour markets have been hammered, with millions thrown out of jobs.
The first wave of the pandemic pushed some 230 million Indians to poverty, according to a survey by the Azim Premji University, which recommended a focus on rural jobs and direct cash transfers to the poor to deal with the crisis.
The second wave impacted the recovering economy and strained the stretched labour market. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, in April 2021 alone, at least 7.35 million people lost their jobs, including 3.4 million salaried employees, in both urban and rural India.
According to the labour ministry, the QES in 2021 will move its focus from pure export orientation earlier to employment generation in manufacturing, services and mining.
The QES is slated to gather primary job creation numbers from 150,000 companies. By comparison, the QES that started in 2008-09, following the global financial crisis and continued till 2017, used to take a sample size of around 2,500 companies. The present survey will cover firms employing 10 or more workers.
Negi said though the QES via telephone and online mode will not be easy, he is hopeful the April-June quarter results will be released by end-July, showing the impact of covid on both employees and employers. “Since the scope is very large, we expect some good data sets and the bigger picture of the jobs market," he added.
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