India lost 1.5 million jobs in the aftermath of demonetisation

Waiting for cash and a job.
Waiting for cash and a job.
Image: AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar
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The historic note ban in 2016 took its toll on jobs in India, says a report.

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a think-tank that tracks business and economic data, believes that 1.5 million jobs were lost in January-April 2017, a likely result of demonetisation.

“The estimated total employment during the period (Jan-April 2017) was 405 million compared to 406.5 million during the preceding four months, September-December 2016…This is the total employment in the country, including organised and unorganised sectors, and agricultural and non-agricultural sectors,” said Mahesh Vyas, managing director & CEO of CMIE, in his report.

This slide is believed to be an after-effect of demonetisation. In November 2016, the Narendra Modi-led government decided to render two high-value currency notes invalid. The Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes accounted for about 86% of the currency in circulation by value and, therefore, the ban led to a severe cash crunch in the economy.

“In November 2016, it was still the festive season but, the labour participation rate fell to a new low of 44.8%. It is apparent that this was an immediate impact of demonetisation,” added Vyas.

The Labour participation rate refers to the share of the population employed or willing to work and seeking jobs. A drop indicates an economic slowdown. Here is a look at how it slipped following demonetisation. These estimates are based on a survey with a sample size of 161,167 households that included 519,285 adults.

Demonetisation’s effect kicked in with a lag, as the period from September-December is a busy season for agrarian India and that could have had kept the employment levels high, explains the report.

Another study by the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation (AIMO) in January had projected a 60% drop in employment and a 55% loss in revenue before March 2017. The AIMO represents over 300,000 – small-, medium-, and large-scale industries involved in manufacturing and export-related tasks.

The overall economy has struggled, too. India’s GDP grew at 7.1% in 2016-17 as compared to 8% in the previous financial year. The data revealed that sectors such as cement, steel, and infrastructure are still suffering. New investments have been sluggish, with fewer new projects taking off, says another report by CMIE.