Job losses were high during the lockdown between March and August, according to Wave 20 of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey.
Three broad ratios – labour participation rate, unemployment rate and employment rate – alerted about the sharp deterioration in labour markets in the first week of April.
The data provide absolute values of the labour force, employment and unemployment and its break-up into broad categories of age, gender, occupation, religion and caste, besides the various associated ratios. They point to the loss of 121 million jobs in April and the recovery of most of these by August, along with the continued deteriorating condition of salaried jobs.
The 20th wave of the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey was conducted entirely during the lockdown, from May through August 2020, illuminating the composition of the loss of salaried jobs.
The biggest loss of jobs among salaried employees was of white-collar professional employees and other employees. They include engineers, physicians, teachers, accountants, analysts and those who are professionally qualified and employed in private or government organisations.
An estimated 12.5 million white-collar professional employees were employed during the wave of January-April 2016. A year ago, during the wave of May-August 2019, their employment peaked at 18.8 million. It remained almost stable at 18.7 million in the next wave of September-December 2019 and then fell to 18.1 million during the wave of January-April 2020. This wave contained a partial impact of the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Employment of these professionally qualified white-collar workers fell steeply to 12.2 million during the wave of May-August 2020. This is the lowest employment of these professionals since 2016. All the gains made in their employment over the past four years were washed away during the lockdown.
The lockdown did not impact white-collar clerical employees. These include largely desk-work employees ranging from secretaries and office clerks to BPO/KPO workers, data-entry operators and the types. Possibly, their work shifted to the work-from-home mode. This category of workers has not been seeing any growth since 2016. In fact, it has slid quite sharply since 2018 from about 15 million to less than 12 million by 2020. Interestingly, it did not slide any further during the lockdown.
Compared to a year ago, employment among the white-collar professional employees was down by 6.6 million. This was the biggest year-on-year loss among all salaried employees. The next biggest loss was among industrial workers. By a similar year-on-year comparison, they lost 5 million employees. This translates into a 26 per cent fall in employment among industrial workers over a year.
The industrial sector saw a 36 per cent year-on-year fall in real gross value added during the April-June 2020 quarter.
Computations made by CMIE from quarterly financial statements of listed companies show that the inflation-adjusted gross value addition of manufacturing companies declined by 41 per cent in the April-June 2020 quarter. But, their real wage bill declined by only about 15 per cent.