Experts are skeptical of CMIE unemployment figures

Experts are skeptical of CMIE unemployment figures

The unemployment rate in urban areas was higher at 9.22 per cent compared to 8.28 per cent in March. In rural areas, the unemployment rate was at 7.18 per cent in April compared to 7.29 per cent in the previous month, the data released on Monday showed.

On Tuesday, economists were sceptical of the new monthly unemployment numbers provided by the Centre for Monitoring India Economy (CMIE), notably the statistics for rural India. They claimed that the CMIE’s data collection technique makes it difficult to acquire a true picture of unemployment. According to the CMIE data, India’s overall unemployment rate grew to 7.83 percent in April 2022, up from 7.60 percent the previous month.

Economist Ajitava Roychowdhury said that CMIE conducts monthly surveys of more than 44,000 households in urban and rural India. ”If someone says on the day of the survey that he is doing something, for example, mobile hawking or rag picking, this person is considered as employed,” he said.

But, the professor of economics at Jadavpur University said, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said that only those who are doing “decent” jobs should be marked as employed. According to the ILO, decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives.

It involves, among other things, opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, and better prospects for personal development and social integration. “The CMIE does not differentiate between those who are in decent jobs and those who are not. If the ILO criteria of decent jobs are applied, the unemployment rate will be much higher,” Roychowdhury said. It is difficult to get the true picture from the CMIE data, he said.

A source in the CMIE, however, said that the methodology followed by the agency is very stringent and surveys are conducted daily from early morning to evening. Those who are not sure of getting an occupation during the day are asked whether they had got one the previous day. If the answer is no, they are categorised as unemployed, the source said.

Commenting on the CMIE data, economist Abhirup Sarkar said these fluctuations show that there is still uncertainty in the economy. ”These fluctuations are normal in a matured economy. There is also an element of statistical error. So, it is very difficult to come to a conclusion on the real picture of the economy,” Sarkar said.

Regarding rural employment, the retired professor of ISI Kolkata said, since India is a poor country, people living in the countryside take up opportunities that come their way. Another economist, who wished not to be quoted, said that the sample used by CMIE for declaring the monthly data is small compared to NSSO and its questionnaire list is not exhaustive.

In April 2022, Haryana registered the highest unemployment rate at 34.5 per cent, followed by Rajasthan at 28.8 per cent. The unemployment rate in West Bengal during April 2022 has increased to 6.2 per cent as compared to 5.6 per cent in March 2022.

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