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COVID-19 lockdown: April job losses highest among youth, says data

COVID-19 lockdown: April job losses highest among youth, says data

Job losses during the lockdown have been disproportionately high among younger Indians, with six crore people between the ages of 20 and 39 losing jobs in April, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

The wider employment situation has shown some improvement in the last week, on the back of a pick-up in agricultural activity and the re-opening of businesses in rural India. The week ended May 10 recorded a jobless rate of 24% in comparison to a record high of 27% the previous week. Urban unemployment stood at almost 28%, while it was 22.3% in rural areas. However, the demographics of job loss are a major cause of concern.

More than 2.7 crore young people in their 20s lost their jobs last month, along with 3.3 crore people in their 30s, said CMIE managing director and chief executive Mahesh Vyas.

'Long-term repercussions'

"This has serious long-term repercussions. It is during this age that young India builds its career in the hope of a bright future," he said. "If the career of this cohort is disrupted or postponed by even a year it will have to compete with the new cohorts joining the labour force after them — arguably, for fewer jobs. Young India will not be able to build the savings it will require later in life."

Young aspiring Indians in the age group of 20-24 years accounted for 8.5% of total employed people in the country in 2019-20, but 11% of those lost jobs. Most of these young people have just entered the labour markets, and 3.4 crore of them were working in the last financial year. Only 2.1 crore still had jobs in April.

Debt delinquency likely

These job losses could raise debt delinquency and impact household savings, said Mr. Vyas. "While households may well conserve cash during these times, the loss of jobs among the young deprives households of the extra cash that is mostly saved for either buying a house or durables or for retirement," he added.

Noting that 12 crore jobs had been lost because of the lockdown, Mr. Vyas said the window of the benefit of doubt in favour of a lockdown was closing. "Claims that the pandemic can be devastating is countered by the fact that the lockdown is already devastating," he said, adding that the government's dithering over a fiscal package meant that unlike in the United States where the state provided assistance to the jobless, Indians could not afford to remain unemployed.

(INputs and image from thehindu.com)

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