Urban jobless rate reaches a four-quarter high in Q4 of FY24: PLFS data | Economy & Policy News

Urban unemployment increased marginally to touch 6.7 per cent in Q4 (January-March) of FY24, up sequentially from 6.5 per cent in the previous quarter, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data, released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on Wednesday.

The headline unemployment rate in the current weekly status (CWS) terms for those above 15 years is the highest since the January-March 2023 quarter, when the unemployment rate touched 6.8 per cent. In CWS, the activity status is determined on the reference period over the past seven days preceding the date of the survey.

Previously, the jobless rate in urban areas has been steadily declining since the high of 12.6 per cent reported during the April-June quarter of FY22 during the peak of the pandemic, the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data showed.

Data showed that while the unemployment rate among women declined slightly to 8.5 per cent during the quarter, the jobless rate among men shot up to 6.1 per cent from 5.8 per cent in the preceding quarter. 

The survey showed that the jobless rate for the youth (15-29 age) shot up to 17 per cent in Q4 from 16.5 per cent in Q3. This figure is important because people belonging to this age group are usually first-timers in the labour market and this metric reflects the robustness.

The latest quarterly survey also showed the labour force participation rate (LFPR), which represents the share of people either working or seeking employment in the urban population, an increase to 50.2 per cent in Q4 of FY24 from 49.9 per cent in the previous quarter.

Both men and women showed greater enthusiasm for work during the quarter, as their LFPR increased to 74.4 per cent and 25.6 per cent from 74.1 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, in the previous quarter.

This increased enthusiasm for work among the urban population, however, did not translate into increased opportunities, as the share of people engaged in self-employment declined to 40.5 per cent from 40.6 per cent in the previous quarter.

The share of salaried work and casual work did not change and remained the same as the previous quarter at 48.7 per cent and 10.8 per cent respectively during the quarter. The share of female workers in regular work did go down in the quarter to 52.3 per cent from 53 per cent.  

Labour economists distinguish between these categories of work and generally consider wage/salaried employment as a better form of employment among the three.

The share of workers working in the tertiary sector, which is the biggest employer in the urban areas rose to 62.2 per cent in Q4 from 62 per cent in the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the share of workers working in the secondary (manufacturing) sector further declined to 32 per cent from 32.1 during this period.    

Given the importance of having labour force data available at frequent intervals, the NSO launched India’s first computer-based survey to measure labour force participation dynamics at three-month intervals for urban areas in April 2017.

First Published: May 15 2024 | 8:39 PM IST

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