Unemployment data catches govt on wrong foot

Last Updated 31 January 2019, 20:13 IST

Hit by the jobs data row, the Centre on Thursday admitted that it had no idea what India's unemployment rate was at present.

It also agreed India did not create enough quality jobs in the four-and-a-half year rule of the Modi government.

The Centre's hurried response came soon after a leaked NSSO jobs report created furore claiming the country's jobless rate rose to a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-18.

“The feeling that we are trying to hide something (on jobs data), is not correct. The country has created enough jobs for new entrants but is true that we have not come up with high-quality jobs,” Centre's policy think-tank Niti Aayog's CEO Amitabh Kant told reporters amid the Hitler-Mussolini jibe between the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress, which made things worse.

"The Fuhrer (Adolf Hitler) promised us two crore jobs a year. Five years later, his leaked job creation report card reveals a national disaster. Unemployment is at its highest in 45 years. 6.5 crore youth are jobless in 2017-18 alone. Time for NoMo2Go," Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

The BJP retorted soon after comparing Rahul Gandhi with Mussolini, the Italian authoritarian ruler and alleged that the Gandhi scion could not understand the data, which showed a sharp increase in the job.

According to the latest NSSO report accessed by a newspaper which has not been made public, the country's unemployment rate in 2017-18 was at its highest level since 1972-73. Unemployment among youth was at 27% and the labour force participation had come down from 39% to 36%, implying fewer people were applying for jobs.

Sources said the Niti Aayog was later asked to douse the fire which could dent the government's image ahead of general elections.

The Aayog said the NSSO has the data ready for about six quarters but it needed to be verified before bringing that into public domain.

Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar refuted the report that the unemployment rate could have gone up to 6.1% in 2017-18, but pleaded guilty when asked what could that be if not 6.1%.

“Niti Aayog does not know fully about the unemployment rate in the country,” he said, adding conventional estimates, however, said that seven million jobs are created every year.

He cited a US consultancy firm Mckinsey report saying 20 million jobs were created in India in between 2014-17.

"Nearly 7.8 million jobs have been created... Both Ola and Uber have created more than two million jobs. In 2014, Ola created 37,000 jobs in 20 cities. As of 2018, Ola has created nearly a million jobs in the country. It is incorrect to compare the data with 2011-12," Kant said.

(Published 31 January 2019, 15:47 IST)

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