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More than 84 million people were employed in salaried jobs at the end of September, at least 6.92 million more than in August, according to new data that indicates a gradual economic recovery.

The September salaried jobs number is the best since February 2020—before the outbreak of the pandemic—fresh monthly data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed. The monthly additions figure is the best since January 2020, when it rose by 8 million sequentially.

As many as 77.14 million people were employed in salaried jobs at the end of August and 76.46 million in July.

Gradual easing
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Gradual easing

Of the new salaried jobs in September, around 4.15 million were added in urban areas. In urban India, the total salaried people’s number grew to 50.46 million by the end of September as against 46.31 million in August, CMIE data showed.

In the broader labour market, the number of farmers went down by 2.51 million in September to 113.56 million as people started moving to non-farm jobs in both rural and urban regions at the end of the summer crop sowing season. This was evident from the fact that the number of people in small trade and daily wage activities went up significantly in September to 134 million from 128.46 million in the previous month, CMIE data showed.

A more nuanced analysis showed formal and informal manufacturing jobs grew by 2.9 million in September. Food industries (2.5 million additions), metal (1.5 million additions), pharma, footwear, gems and jewellery and handicrafts added a sizable number of jobs.

Textiles shed about 1 million jobs, while cement, tiles and glass bricks together shed over 1.5 million employees, and automobile and the transport sector removed around 350,000 jobs in September as against August.

Economists and experts argue the CMIE data shows two key characteristics—economic activities are picking up gradually, but several core sectors are yet to recover.

“While professional and experts service are showing positive growth in the last few months and IT continues to add new jobs due to its massive deployment across sectors, segments such as trade, textiles and apparel, automobile, cement are still laggards. There is a mixed bag in the labour market: jobs are getting added in some areas but core sector regular jobs are still muted. We have seen the indication in payroll data of this, and CMIE data is giving more of that picture," said K.R. Shyam Sundar, a labour economist.

CMIE data showed the number of people employed in wholesale trade came down by 4.58 million in September as against August. But financial services added 1.3 million people and IT and ITes sector around 58,000 people in the same period. Overall, the services sector saw the number of people employed fall by 1.13 million in September against August.

India has been facing a tough jobs market for the past few years and the situation worsened amid the pandemic. Soon after the national lockdown was imposed last year, India’s unemployment rate crossed over 20%. It has fallen below 7% now but in a large labour market like India’s, a 7% unemployment rate is considered high and worrisome

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