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Rediff.com  » Business » Doubts resurface over govt's jobs data, as EPFO cuts payroll numbers

Doubts resurface over govt's jobs data, as EPFO cuts payroll numbers

August 21, 2018 15:14 IST

The payroll data has been revised downwards for each of the nine months between September 2017 and May this year

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

The net enrolment numbers released by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has been revised down by 12.4 per cent for the September-May period, from an earlier estimate of 4.5 million to 3.9 million.

 

The payroll count in June rose by 24 per cent to 793,308. The net enrolment numbers for June were the highest since September 2017. In May, the payroll numbers had grown by 10 per cent to 638,653.

The payroll count is essentially the difference between the number of workers who joined and exited from the EPFO’s fold.

All employees who work in establishment hiring at least 20 workers contribute towards provident fund and pension, managed by the EPFO.

The Union government has been citing this data since past few months as an indication for job growth in the economy.

During a debate on the no-confidence motion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had claimed that over 10 million jobs were created in the country in past one year, quoting the payroll data released by EPFO, along with other proxy datasets.

The government started releasing the payroll data since April this year for the period beginning September 2017.

The payroll has been revised downwards for each of the nine months between September 2017 and May this year.

The downward revision is in the range of 5-27 per cent in these months.

“The data is provisional as updates of employees records is a continuous process and it gets updated in subsequent months,” said the EPFO.

The estimates released by the EPFO may include temporary employees, “whose contributions may not be continuous for the entire year.”

“The problem with this data is the late filing of return and late reporting of a change in employment by employers to the EPFO,” a senior government official said, adding, “Not all the new EPFO subscriptions mean creation of employment."

The government has temporarily discontinued releasing the Quarterly Employment Survey by the Labour Bureau, under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and has formed a committee to look into the relevance of the survey.

The committee formed under former chief statistician T C A Anant is mandated to suggest whether the QES should be abolished or not, “especially with the publishing of payroll data.”

The committee is expected to submit its report next month.

The government was drawing a lot of flak from the Opposition parties on “jobless growth” citing the Labour Bureau’s quarterly job surveys.

Concerned by the criticism, the government had last year commissioned a survey, termed as an “independent study”, to State Bank of India chief economist Soumya Kanti Ghosh and Indian Institute of Management Bengaluru professor Pulak Ghosh to produce “quick indicators for direct or indirect reflections on employment data.”

Ghosh and Ghosh released a study titled Towards a Payroll Reporting in India in January that claimed 7 million people were added to the payroll in 2017-18.

Somesh Jha in New Delhi
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