Rajendra P. Mamgain
National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj
Journal of Social and Economic Development , Feb 2021
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This paper examines the impact of COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown on labour market in India. By using the data of centre for monitoring Indian economy (CMIE)s consumer pyramids household survey (CPHS), the paper analyses the magnitude and nature of job losses and consequent unprecedented rise in unemployment across gender, social group, occupations during AprilJune 2020. It finds widespread job losses in labour market with some sections of the society, including small traders, self-employed, migrant workers, daily wage labourers, youth and women being worst affected, who mostly work in the informal sector of the Indian economy. Agriculture sector acted as a sponge by absorbing surplus labour during the times of COVID-19, which was being gradually vacated earlier over the years due to several well-known reasons. The rate of recovery in labour market has been comparatively much slower in case of salaried jobs, youth employment, particularly in rural areas and with elementary education. The economic consequences such disruptions on employment front were even much more serious as a very low percentage of households reporting improvement in their incomes. The most worrying aspect is that though the return to normalcy may take some time, there has been general recessionary trends in employment in India, which have been visible much before the COVID-19 crisis. The policy measures need to be extraordinary in such difficult times, focusing on securing employment and welfare of affected workers through sound and effective social protection programmes along with a major drive for promoting labour-intensive economic activities such as micro- and small enterprises, extension of employment security to poor urban households and skilling/reskilling of labour force to work in post-COVID-changed situations.

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