Millennium Post

Existing unemployment surveys unreliable: Panagariya

Existing unemployment surveys unreliable: Panagariya
In the face of criticism that the NDA government policies promote jobless growth, the Niti Aayog on Monday trashed unemployment surveys as unreliable and said it has set up a task force to produce authoritative annual nationwide employment data based on household surveys.

"We don't have an existing survey from which we can get the numbers (of unemployed). In the process, the debate on jobs has happened in a vacuum," Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya told reporters here, while referring to surveys done by the Labour Bureau in 2015 which showed that only 135,000 jobs were added by certain sectors that year.

"There is serious problem with these surveys in eight sectors of the economy, where the total workforce covered is three crore, out of a countrywide workforce of around 47 crore," he said.

"Even these three crore come from 11 states. It is a non-random survey sample from which you're trying to arrive at the population numbers, which you cannot. One can't extrapolate from the sample to the population," he added.

The NITI Aayog is also addressing the problem of unemployment. It said that the task force, created in May, will enable a household survey

It will help the production of quarterly estimates of employment and unemployment data. To spur job growth in the economy, the NITI Aayog said it would create coastal employment zones, enhance labour market flexibility and address the problem of non-performing assets.

The Finance Ministry's latest Economic Survey shows annual employment growth was only 0.5 percent during the period 2004-12, while labour force growth was 2.9 percent.

This is to be contrasted with the latest figures of India's GDP growth put out by the official statistician Central Statistics Office here on Thursday showing that the economy grew at 7.1 per cent during the last financial year.

Panagariya said the unreliability of surveys had led to Niti Aayog setting up a task force to produce authoritative data based on regular surveys.

"Whether the unemployment figures have gone up or down, we don't have the numbers. This has triggered setting up of a task force I am heading that will lead to regular household-based surveys, which will help produce annual and quarterly employment estimates," he said.

He elaborated that the National Sample Survey Office had already begun this exercise in April and in the weeks to come, "not months", the country would see another assessment of unemployment figures.

The Niti Aayog Vice Chairman said most of the "administrative data" in this regard from bodies like the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) are of the formal sector.

"In India, the formal sector is the weaker part, not the dynamic one... and this has been the case for the last 60 years. So we have to be circumspect before taking this data as the real indicators," he said.


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