The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has led to a spike in the country’s unemployment rate to 27.11% for the week ended May 3, up from the under 7% level before the start of the pandemic in mid-March, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has said. The Mumbai-based think tank said the rate of unemployment was the highest in the urban areas, which constitute the most number of the red zones due to the coronavirus cases, at 29.22%, as against 26.69% for the rural areas.
Analysts have been warning about the spectre of unemployment ever since the country was put under a lockdown on March 25 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrest the spread of the coronavirus infections.
Scenes of migrants fleeing urban centres including Delhi and Mumbai only confirmed the long-held concerns on their employment as the economic activity came to a grinding halt.
The government has so far announced income and food support to the vulnerable people as part of a ₹1.70 lakh crore fiscal stimulus to the economic-, financial- and possibly humanitarian crisis, and is also mulling a second round of measures soon.
The U.S. has seen a huge spike in unemployment as over 26 million people have claimed for State support because of losing their jobs. Experts often rue the absence of a good gauge of jobs in India, which is predominantly an unorganised-sector led economy.
CMIE’s weekly series of data pointed to a steady increase in unemployment since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, with the week to March 29 showing the sharpest spike to 23.81%.
As per CMIE’s data, the monthly unemployment rate in April stood at 23.52%, up from March’s 8.74%.
As of the end of April, Puducherry in South India had the highest number of unemployment at 75.8%, followed by neighbouring Tamil Nadu 49.8%, Jharkhand 47.1% and Bihar 46.6%.
Maharashtra’s unemployment rate was pegged at 20.9% by the CMIE, while the same for Haryana stood at 43.2%, Uttar Pradesh at 21.5% and Karnataka at 29.8%.
Hilly States had the lowest incidence of unemployment as of April, the think tank said, pointing out that the rate in Himachal Pradesh stood at 2.2%, Sikkim at 2.3% and Uttarakhand at 6.5%.