According to a report based on an official survey, India’s unemployment rate hit a 45-year high of 6.1 percent in 2017, which the government said was yet to be approved.
The report, which the government had withheld from being released and accessed by Business Standard newspaper, said the unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in 2017-18, post demonetisation, and was at its highest level since 1972-73 — the period since when the jobs data is comparable.
In a press conference on Thursday, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar stated that the report cited by the newspaper “is not finalized. It is a draft report”.
He said that the government will release its employment report by March after collating quarter-on-quarter data, as he refusing to comment on the content of the news report. He asked how can a country grow at an average of 7 percent without employment, as he rejected the claims of jobless growth.
Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who too was present at the conference, said India is creating an adequate number of jobs for new candidates, but “probably we are not creating high-quality jobs”.
The joblessness rate among youth was at a significantly higher level in 2017-18 compared to the previous years and “much higher compared to that in the overall population,” the report says.
The two members of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) resigned in protest on Tuesday. NSC acting chief P.C. Mohanan and his colleague J. Meenakshi were unhappy over the non-publication of the job data that had been due for release in December last year, apparently in view of the approaching Lok Sabha elections.
Despite high growth, the failure to create enough jobs has been the hardest economic challenge in post-reform India. Creating more jobs was one of the biggest promises of the Bharatiya Janta Party’s 2014 campaign.
The back to back economic disaster from demonetisation and the imposition of the Goods and Service tax made this task even more difficult to achieve. Demonetisation was a disaster to the economy as the highest growth rate was recorded at 8.2 percent in a 2016-17 financial year in which 87 percent of the circulated currency in form of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was demonetised.