The number of people seeking jobs through government schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has been increasing.

“Economic growth has not revived, exports have fallen. MSMEs have been doing poorly since 2016. People who have returned to urban areas from rural areas are still looking for work or are finding only low-level jobs,” labour economist Santosh Mehrotra told The Financial Express.

India’s labor participation rate, an estimate of an economy’s active workforce, meanwhile, rose to 42.2% in the first three weeks of December from 40.4% in November.

Agriculture may be of no help this time

Agricultural activity has remained resilient even as overall growth shrank, according to the Economic Survey of 2021-22.

The sector was less affected because it was a fallback option for many of those who lost city jobs, according to agricultural economist Sudha Narayanan.

“The recent rise in the unemployment rate cannot be explained by the seasonal movement of labour in and out of agriculture...” CMIE head Mahesh Vyas wrote in The Business Standard on Dec. 19.

However, agriculture’s ability to help the economy may be limited this time. The farm sector has already absorbed more workers than it can sustain amid a dearth of jobs, resulting in distress employment.

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