NEW DELHI—The biggest new challenge facing India's policymakers and administrators is rapidly rising unemployment, says a report released on Tuesday by the Centre for Sustainable Employment of the Azim Premji University.
"Unemployment levels have been steadily rising, and after several years of staying around 2-3%, the headline rate of unemployment reached 5% in 2015, with youth unemployment being a very high 16%," the State of Working India 2018 (SWI) report said. "This rate of unemployment is the highest seen in India in at least the last 20 years," the report added.
This shortage of jobs is compounded by depressed wages, with 82% of men and 92% of women earning less than Rs 10,000 per month.
The report also notes that the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hasn't resulted in a commensurate increase in employment.
"A 10% increase in GDP now results in less than 1% increase in employment," says the study.
"It used to be said that India's problem is not unemployment but underemployment and low wages. But a new feature of the economy is a high rate of open unemployment, which is now over five percent overall."
The report, co-written by a group of researchers, policymakers, journalists and civil society activists, has primarily relied on data from the National Sample Survey Office and the Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS) of the Labour Bureau—the last of which was conducted in 2015-16.
The report has looked at the Bombay Stock Exchange-Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (BSE-CMIE) surveys for data for the past two years. These surveys, says the SWI study, "report a decline in employment over the past two years, continuing the trend of declining employment observed since 2013 in government data". However, since the two surveys are not comparable, the report doesn't engage as much with the BSE-CMIE data.
The report calls rising unemployment a "new" problem for India.
"It used to be said that India's problem is not...