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6 million white-collar workers lost their jobs during the lockdown

Jobs in the white collar space has been rising steadily since 2016, CMIE wrote this in its website in a postPremium
Jobs in the white collar space has been rising steadily since 2016, CMIE wrote this in its website in a post

  • While 5.9 million white collar workers lost their jobs between May-August 2020, over the previous four months ended 30 April, this job loss number stood at 6.6 million when compared with May-August 2019
  • Continued curbs and localized lockdowns have hit economic recovery and employment prospects

NEW DELHI : Almost six million white-collar workers, including engineers, physicians, teachers, accountants and analysts, lost their jobs between May and August, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said.

Continued curbs and localized lockdowns have dampened economic recovery and employment prospects, despite the government beginning the process of unlocking the economy in June.

The number of white-collar jobs has been rising since 2016, according to CMIE. “An estimated 12.5 million white-collar professional employees were employed during the wave of January-April 2016," CMIE said, referring to the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey that it has been conducting for the last few years.

During May-August 2019, their employment peaked at 18.8 million. It remained almost stable at 18.7 million in the September-December 2019 period and then fell to 18.1 million during January-April 2020.

The January-April data, CMIE said, contained a partial impact of the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“Employment of these professionally qualified white-collar workers fell steeply to 12.2 million during the wave of May-August 2020. This is the lowest employment of these professionals since 2016. All the gains made in their employment over the past four years were washed away during the lockdown," chief executive Mahesh Vyas wrote in a post on the CMIE website.

This means while 5.9 million white-collar workers lost their jobs between May-August 2020, over the previous four months ended 30 April, this job loss number stood at 6.6 million when compared with May-August 2019.

The 20th edition of the survey was conducted during the lockdown (May-August) and Vyas wrote that it does not include the worst month of job losses, April 2020, which was covered in the previous edition.

“The biggest loss of jobs among salaried employees was of ‘white-collar professional employees and other employees’. These include engineers, including software engineers, physicians, teachers, accountants, analysts and the type, who are professionally qualified and were employed in some private or government organization. This does not include similarly professionally qualified persons who run their own practice as these are classified as qualified self-employed professional entrepreneurs," it said.

The lockdown did not impact white-collar clerical employees. These include largely desk work employees ranging from secretaries and office clerks to BPO/KPO workers and data-entry operators. They possibly shifted to the work-from-home mode, said CMIE. This category of workers has not been seeing growth since 2016. In fact, it has slid quite sharply since 2018 from about 15 million to less than 12 million by 2020, Vyas wrote.

“The lockdown has hit industrial workers. Compared to a year ago, employment among white-collar professional employees was down by 6.6 million. This was the biggest year-on-year (y-o-y) loss among all salaried employees. The next biggest loss was among industrial workers. By a similar y-o-y comparison, they lost five million employees. This translates into a 26% fall in employment among industrial workers over a year," Vyas wrote.

The decline in employment of industrial workers is likely to be largely in the smaller industrial units, he said. This reflects the distress in MSMEs in recent times.

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