New Delhi: Joblessness among the youth aged 15 to 29 years in rural areas has hit the highest level since 1993-94, official five-yearly survey data shows, raising potentially difficult questions for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government just months before the Lok Sabha polls are due.
About 5% of rural young men and women remained without jobs in 2011-12, a new report on the 2011-12 survey released on Friday shows.
Rural unemployment was about 4.7% for both rural males and females in 2009-10. In 1993-94, 3.5% of rural young men in the labour force had no jobs. The corresponding figure was 1.9% for young women in rural areas.
Experts said a rising trend in the unemployment rate in rural areas could indicate a structural shift in the labour market that policymakers have not adequately addressed.
“These data are very worrying because they show how the declines in agricultural employment have not been met by rising jobs in other activities, since only construction has shown a significant increase. So there are few options for the growing number of youth who have gone through more secondary and tertiary education. What is even more shocking is how little the government is responding to these trends with any sense of urgency,”said Jayati Ghosh
, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Workforce in agriculture fell below 50% for the first time in 2011-12.
The proportion of workers engaged in agricultural activities fell from 81% in 1977-78 to 63% in 2009-10 to 59 % in 2011-12 for rural males and from 88% in 1977-78 to 79% to 75 % in 2011-12 for rural females, the National Sample Survey Office’s survey reports show.
, chairman of the National Statistical Commission, said it could be that enough jobs to absorb raw youth are no longer being created.
The report said, “Over the years, there has been considerable increase in the proportion of workers engaged in ‘construction’. Between 1977-78 and 2011-12, the increase in the proportion of workers in ‘construction’ was about 11 percentage points for rural males, 6 percentage points for rural females, 7 percentage points for urban males and 2 percentage points for urban females.”
In rural areas, Kerala had the worst record with 21.7% of its youth unemployed followed by Assam with about 15% and Uttarakhand with about 11% youth unemployed.
In urban areas, Jammu and Kashmir had the highest proportion of unemployed young persons at 18.7%, followed by Assam and Kerala.
To be sure, higher unemployment among youth, particularly educated youth, has always been higher when compared to the overall average of all age groups.
The unemployment rate among educated youth was 8.1 % for rural males, 15.5 % for rural females, 11.7 % for urban males and 19.8% for urban females, the report said.
The trend of urban unemployment rates, in general and for youth, being higher than those in rural areas continued in 2011-12.
But, the trend over time has been more mixed in urban areas, where although it has declined to its lowest level since 1993-94 for young women to 13.1%, it rose from its all time low of 7.5% in 2009-10 for young men to touch 8.1%.
The rise in joblessness holds true when statistical investigators ask persons about their employment status in the one year till the survey, or their usual principal and subsidiary status.
However, unemployment by current daily status, where statistical investigators ask persons about their employment status on each day of the week before the survey, has declined since 1993-94 for all areas.
The report said the difference between the two measures of unemployment reflected, among other things, intermittent employment.