Work it

The quality of jobs in India is improving amid chronic unemployment

The number of jobs with listed firms hits a record high, bringing some cheer amid the gloom
Working class. 
Working class. 
Image: DANISH SIDDIQUI (Reuters)
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The number of jobs provided by India’s listed companies may have, for the first time ever, touched the 10 million mark in 2021-22.

“This is an all-time high...An over 9% increase in employment in these companies may have implications on demand,” said Mahesh Vyas, managing director and CEO of the Mumbai-based Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), which tracks business and economic data.

And this perhaps is the only silver lining in an economy plagued by rampant unemployment, never mind the government’s claim of having overcome the covid-19 pandemic’s debilitating impact.

The current Indian workforce is still smaller than in pre-pandemic days, according to CMIE. However, the number of jobs provided by listed firms shows that the quality of employment is improving.

“Listed companies are the best employers and, therefore, this big increase in employment by them makes a significant difference to the quality of employment in India,” Vyas wrote on CMIE’s website.

Such firms “pay well over three times the wages paid by other employers,” according to Vyas. The CMIE estimates that salaries at listed companies stood at 7.14 lakh rupees ($8,790) per annum on average in 2021-22. This figure was Rs 2.63 lakh across all salaried jobs.

Slow rural recovery brings economic distress

India’s unemployment rate rose to 7.77% in October from 6.43% in September, driven by a spike in rural unemployment, according to CMIE data. In November, it even touched an all-time high since September.

The Indian government, however, has said that both urban and rural unemployment rates have declined in the quarter ending June 2022.

Explaining this variance, Santosh Mehrotra, a labor economist and former professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, told The Financial Express that the CMIE, unlike the government, doesn’t define unpaid family labor as employment at all.

“The point is that unpaid family labor rising at a time when the economy has slowed, is simply a sign of distress, both rural and urban,” Mehrotra said.