Oct. 30, 2019

A new study, commissioned by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), and undertaken by Laveesh Bhandari of Indicus Foundation and Amaresh Dubey of Jawaharlal Nehru University, has highlighted the broad trends for employment in India between 2004 and 2018.


  • A key feature of this study is that instead of focusing on unemployment, it focuses only on the “employment” data.

  • It does so by looking at three comparable surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) — the Employment-Unemployment Surveys (EUS) of 2004-05 and 2011-12, and the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of 2017-18.

Main findings of the study:

  • The total employment in the country grew by 4.5 crore in the 13 years between EUS 2004-05 and PLFS 2017-18. This represents a growth of just 0.8 per cent — less than half the rate at which the overall population grew, which was 1.7 per cent.

  • Of the 4.5 crore increase in employment, 4.2 crore happened in the urban areas while rural employment either contracted (by 0.01 per cent between 2004 and 2011) or was stagnant (grew by 0.18 per cent between 2011 and 2017).

  • Male employment grew by 6 crore but female employment fell by 1.5 crore.

  • Youth employment (those between the ages of 15 and 24) has fallen from 8.14 crore in 2004 to 5.34 crore in 2017. However, employment in the 25-59 age group and the 60 years and above group has gone up.

  • The share of organised sector in the total employed has risen from 8.9 per cent in 2004 to 14 per cent in 2017. The share of unorganised sector in the total employed has gone up from 37.1 per cent in 2004 to 47.7 per cent in 2017.

  • Both these sectors – Organised and Unorganised – have grown at the expense of the agri-cropping sector, where employment has fallen from 21.9 per cent in 2004 to 17.4 per cent in 2017. In essence, those who are poor, illiterate, and unskilled are increasingly losing out on jobs.