Chanakya IAS Academy Blog



As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-2018 report by NSSO which the government has withheld, over 5 crore rural women have left the national job market since 2004-05. Female participation has fallen by 7 percentage points since 2011-12, amounting to approximately 2.8 crores fewer women looking for jobs.


  • National unemployment: India’s unemployment rate stood at a 45-year (1972-1973) high of 6.1 percent during 2017-2018. In 2011-2012, the unemployment rate stood at 2.2 percent.
  • Urban v/s rural: The unemployment level was higher in urban areas (7.8%), as compared to 5.3% in rural areas.
  • Labour force shrinkage: Since 2011-12, the casual farm labour force has shrunk to over 40 percent. Also, more people were withdrawing from the workforce as the labour force participation rate (LFPR) stood at a lower level than the previous few years.
  • Educated rural males: For rural educated males, the unemployment rate rose to 10.5 percent in 2011-2012, which ranged from 3.5-4.4 percent during 2004-2005 to 2011-2012.
  • Educated rural females: For educated females in the rural area, the unemployment rate ranged from 9.7 percent to 15.2 percent during 2004-2005 to 2011-2012, which rose to 17.3 percent in 2017-2018.


Rural segment:

  • The rural female participation rate fell from 49.4 percent in 2004-05 to 35.8 percent in 2011-12 and further to 24.6 percent in 2017-18.
  • In effect, the participation of rural women of working age has been halved since 2004-05.
  • The share of regular wage/salaried jobs: In the rural sector, the segment’s share increased by 4.9 percent percentage points and it translated into 15 lakh more jobs.

Urban segment:

  • In the urban segment, though, female participation increased by 0.4 percentage points in the six years ending 2017-18, amounting to 12 lakh more job seekers.
  • This bucks the trend as female participation in urban job market had fallen by 2.2 percentage points between 2004-5 and 2011-12.
  • The share of regular wage/salaried jobs: In the urban sector, the jump the share of regular wage/salaried jobs for women registered a rise since 2011-12, is by 9.6 percentage points and, in actual terms, accounts for an additional 20 lakh jobs.

Informal sector:

  • Among urban female workers, the share of non-agricultural informal sector – unincorporated proprietary and partnership enterprises in areas such as manufacturing garments, paper, wood and straw products etc – dropped sharply by 13.6 percent.

Formal sector:

  • The share of non-agricultural informal sector has also slipped by 13.4 percentage point among rural female workers but that has been the trend since 2004-05.
  • For the urban female workers, the slide is sharp.


  • Male-dominated sector: Sectors with the fastest growth and maximum hiring – telecom, banking and the core sectors are dominated by men. Fewer women are likely to remain in a shrinking job market where men have the upper hand.
  • Social taboos: Part of it could also be the result of a cultural shift that makes the once-independent village woman a victim of growing social taboos against going out and working.
  • Responsibilities: Social norms about appropriate behaviour for women and the enforcement of these norms by parents, in-laws and husbands dictate their ability to seek employment.
  • Only women suffer during economic disruption: Many small enterprises could not recover from the effects of a series of induced economic disruptions. Many others had to downsize to survive. When it comes to cost-cutting, unfortunately, the women workers are often considered more dispensable.


  • In India, the estimation of reliable employment and unemployment data is a major statistical hurdle
  • From the beginning, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) was conducting Employment and Unemployment Surveys as part of its National Sample Surveys, which were the prime source for statistics about employment and unemployment situation in the country.
  • In April 2017, a nationwide Labour Force Survey known as Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) was launched by the NSSO.
  • This survey was aimed to provide quarterly employment and unemployment data.


  • The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) is the organization under the ministry of statistics of the government of India
  • The organization is responsible for the conduct of large scale sample surveys in diverse fields on All India basis.
  • It works to carry out surveys on socio-economic, demographic, agricultural and industrial subjects for collecting data from households and from enterprises located in villages and in the towns.

The National Sample Survey (NSS), initiated in 1950on the basis of a proposal from PC Mahalanobis to fill up data gaps for socio-economic planning and policymaking. In March 1970, the NSS was reorganized and all of its all work aspects were brought under a single government organization, the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), to impart autonomy and objectivity in the matter of collection, processing and publication of the NSS data.


  • The findings of the report hold significance as this is the first comprehensive survey on employment conducted by a government agency after demonetization in November 2016.
  • The survey aims at providing annual estimates of labour force, employment, unemployment, industry structure of the workforce, nature of employment and wages nationally and regionally on an annual basis.
  • Given the rapid changes and challenges in the Indian labour market, there is an urgent need to have current, accurate and publicly available data through regular, dynamic and comprehensive surveys.


The above statistics lend irrefutable and concrete evidence of the extent of employment being generated across the country. Certainly, there are enough pieces of evidence to doubt and even contradict the narrative of joblessness with a shrinking workforce and rise in unemployment in the country. With the results, India’s next challenge will be to meet the aspirations of unemployed people, andthis requires the creation of enough well-paying jobs. In addition to employment generation, this also requires policies that encourage productivity growth in the country, which necessitate concerted efforts towards formalization, urbanization and industrialization of the Indian economy.

Read 191 times Last modified on Monday, 25 March 2019 14:06

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