India’s urban unemployment rate declined in Q4FY23 to 6.8 per cent – the lowest in over four years -- after it stagnated at 7.2 per cent in the previous October-December quarter, reflecting improvement in the labour market, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on Monday.
The unemployment rate in current weekly status (CWS) terms for all ages in the March quarter was the lowest recorded in more than four years, from the time the NSO released India’s first quarterly urban jobless rate for the December quarter in 2018.
The jobless rate in urban areas had been on a continuous decline since the peak of 20.8 per cent in the April-June quarter of FY21.
The unemployment rate among men and women was estimated at 6 and 9.2 per cent, respectively, down from 6.5 and 9.6 per cent in the previous quarter.
These figures have been declining since the April-June quarter of 2020-21, when it was estimated at 12.2 and 14.3 per cent, respectively.
The latest quarterly survey also showed the labour force participation rate (LFPR), which represents the percentage of people either working or seeking work in the population, saw a marginal increase in Q4FY23 to 48.5 per cent, from 48.2 per cent in Q3FY23, the highest number in recent times.
Women showed greater enthusiasm for work as their LFPR witnessed greater increase than that of men in the March quarter.
The female participation rate registered an increase of 0.4 percentage points and stood at 22.7 per cent, from 22.3 per cent in Q3; the LFPR for males stood at 73.5 per cent against 73.3 per cent in the previous quarter.
A large number of women found work in the self-employed category (38.5 per cent in Q4FY23 against 37.9 per cent in Q3FY23), which includes unpaid helpers in household enterprises.
Meanwhile, the share of men in regular salaried jobs increased to 47.3 per cent, from 46.9 per cent during the period under review.
The worker-to-population ratio (WPR), which is the percentage of employed persons in the population, also witnessed an increase of 0.5 percentage points sequentially to 45.2 per cent in Q4.
The female WPR stood at 20.6 per cent; the male WPR was 69.1 per cent.
Last week, the government released the new formal job creation figures for the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) which showed that total number of new subscribers that joined the fund (EPF) in FY23 stood at 11,498,453 -- the highest number of new subscribers joining the social security organisation in a year since FY19, when 13,944,349 new subscribers subscribed to it.
Considering the importance of the availability of the labour force data at frequent intervals, the NSO in April 2017 launched India’s first computer-based survey to measure the dynamics in labour force participation in the short interval of three months for urban areas.
Before the PLFS, the National Sample Survey Organisation (now known as NSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation used to bring the data related to employment and unemployment based on household socioeconomic surveys once in five years.