Home / News / India /  Jobless rate drops as govt lifts some curbs on economic activity

NEW DELHI : India’s unemployment rate dropped to 23.97% in the week ended 10 May as the government lifted some curbs on economic activity, including farming, after a month-long lockdown, according to a private survey.

The job loss rate was 27.11% in the week ended 3 May, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

Rural unemployment rate declined four percentage points, indicating some farming activity has resumed during the harvest season. The urban jobless rate, on the other hand, declined more modestly, underlining the fact that cities are still struggling to recover as covid-19 cases continue to rise.

Urban unemployment declined to 27.83% in the week to 10 May from 29.22% in the previous week, but the figure is still higher than the national job-loss rate of 23.97% and the rural job loss rate of 22.35%, according to CMIE.

India’s major cities remain in a lockdown as most of them are in so-called red zones, or hotspot districts. Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru are witnessing a renewed surge in the number of coronavirus cases and may not be able to return to normalcy immediately, experts said.

“The urban centres are facing a tough time. The job loss and wage loss in cities in both the formal and informal segments is negating whatever little activity is taking place in urban centres and industrial clusters. It will take time for revival," said K.R. Shyamsundar, a labour economist and professor at XLRI Jamshedpur.

The rural economy, which accounts for a lion’s share of the workforce, also saw a fall in the unemployment rate to 22.35% in the week to 10 May from 26.16% in the previous week, according to CMIE data.

Economists, however, believe the rural unemployment rate may increase as millions of migrants stranded in cities make their way back to their home states.

“The supply will go up even as the demand remains constant. This will have an impact on people and their livelihoods," said Anoop Satpathy, a fellow at the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute.

The pandemic has hit everyone hard, workers and businesses alike, Satpathy said.

“The collective impact is visible," he said. Things will open up when economic activity picks up and it is difficult to predict a time frame, Satpathy added.

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