Young workforce: Future imperfect

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The young people in the country are now the most suffering lot as far as the employment market is concerned. The slowdown in the last three years in the economy has been followed by Covid-19 induced lockdown in various phases in 2020-21 fiscal and that has affected mostly the young workers. Higher job losses among those below the age of 40 years has resulted in an ageing workforce, which is not favourable for a strong recovery of the economy, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Recent CMIE data shows that the share of those over 40 years of age, which was 56 per cent in 2019-20 increased to 60 per cent by December 2020. The share of the relatively young has correspondingly shrunk. This ageing of the workforce again, does not bode well for a stronger recovery in the second half of 2020-21 or in the future, it said.

Graduates and post-graduates had a 13% share in total employment in 2019-20. Their share in the loss of jobs was 65 per cent. As per the CMIE, out of the 14.7 million jobs lost, 9.5 million were those of graduates and post-graduates. This is a very disquieting development. Our demographic advantage is due to the presence of highly skilled people among the graduates and post graduates but they are losing their jobs. The CMIE data show that job losses were concentrated among the younger workers. All age groups below the age of 40 suffered a fall in employment till December 2020 this year while all age groups above 40 years of age have seen a small gain in employment. Further, salaried employees who accounted for 21% total employment in 2019-20, accounted for 71 per cent of the total job losses. Nearly 15 million less people were employed in December 2020, nine months after the lockdown hit people’s livelihood compared to those that were employed before the lockdown in 2019-20.

Those who lost jobs were concentrated in urban regions, among women, among the relatively younger workers, the graduates and post graduates and the salaried employees. The government claims that the economy battered by pandemic in the current fiscal is having shaped recovery. That is taking place but with the job losses during the pandemic and lock down not being replenished. The partial recovery has taken place so far with the job losses of the younger people continuing. The irony is that nobody in the Government is talking specifically of crash generation of jobs to meet the threat of increasing unemployment among the younger people. About 10 million new entrants are there in India in the job market but the proposed 20-21 budget proposals to be presented on February 1, will contain hardly major job generating policies. The policy makers are living in a make believe world that the growth, whatever takes place, will take care of the jobs. They have not learnt the lesson that Indian economy is having jobless growth and the employers are earning high profits but not spending on higher wages and new employment. That is the current dilemma for the Indian economy and the most affected has been the young workers and the new entrants in the employment market.


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