Urban job loss more severe than that in rural India; continued lockdown has made India’s workers poorer

The extent of job losses in India is more pronounced in urban areas than in most rural areas of the country due to the impact of the lockdown since March 25 this year

Representative Image (Photo courtesy: social media)
Representative Image (Photo courtesy: social media)

Satyaki Chakraborty/IPA

The extent of job losses in India is more pronounced in urban areas than in most rural areas of the country due to the impact of the lockdown since March 25 this year. The lockdown will continue after May 17 in its fourth phase with some withdrawal of curbs to facilitate the starting of some selected industries and the transport, but the damage to the job market which has already been done duet to more than fifty days of lockdown till date, will take a long period to heal.

The Indian workers who were already suffering from the slowdown of the last two years in the economy has been pauperised to a considerable extent. they will remain much poorer for long.

Around 67 per cent of workers lost jobs during the COVID-19 infused lockdown. Urban area posted a loss in employment for 8 in 10 workers and around 6 in 10 workers in rural areas, says initial findings of a phone survey conducted by Azim Premji University in collaboration with 10 civil society organisations. The survey covered over 4,000 respondents

The survey was done by Azim Premji University in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra (Pune), Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, and West Bengal in order to gauge the impact of lockdown on employment, livelihoods, and access to government relief schemes.

Job loss was worst for self-employed in urban India, with 84 per cent of people losing employment, as compared to 76 per cent salaried workers and 81 per cent casual workers. Whereas in rural areas, 66 per cent of casual wage workers loss employment, followed by 62 per cent of salaried workers and 47 per cent of rural workers.

For non-agricultural self-employed workers who were still employed, average weekly earnings fell by over 90 per cent from ₹2,240 to ₹218. Whereas for casual workers who were still employed, average weekly earnings almost halved from ₹940 in February to ₹495 during the lockdown, the survey noted. Half of all salaried workers, or 51 per cent, saw either a slash in their salary or received no salary.

Around half (49 per cent) of households reported that they did not have enough money to buy even a week’s worth of essential items, whereas 80 per cent of urban households and 70 per cent in rural areas reported consuming less food than before. According to the survey, over one-third, or 36 per cent, of vulnerable households in urban India received at least one cash transfer from the government, while 53 per cent of rural households received this benefit.

Every 1 in 5 Indians is now worried about losing his or her job as the coronavirus pandemic has shut industries and businesses in India, a new survey said.

According to the survey conducted by YouGov, an Internet-based market research and data analytics firm, some Indians worry about the economic impact of the virus such as losing their jobs (20 per cent), getting a pay cut (16 per cent), or not getting a bonus or increment this year (8 per cent).

Early estimates indicate that millions of jobs are at stake in India and urban unemployment rate has soared to 30.9 per cent. Overall unemployment has already risen to 23.4 per cent. As people have been staying home for roughly three weeks now, data from YouGov's ongoing COVID-19 tracker shows that fear levels among people have stabilised over time.

There has been a marginal decline in the number of people saying they are very or fairly scared of contracting the virus – at 64 per cent, down from 66 per cent last week.

The number of people saying they are not very or not at all scared has also been stable at 27 per cent.

"Fear has notably declined for the oldest generation of Baby Boomers, with 53 per cent now saying they are very or fairly scared as opposed to 61 per cent saying this last week," the data showed.

Although fear levels have stabilised, people do have concerns related to the pandemic, the biggest being the unavailability of essential items, which 37 per cent Indians are worried about.

The survey was conducted on 1,000 respondents in India between April 7-10.

The data showed that nearly half (47 per cent) have started exercising at home to keep themselves fit and just as many people (46 per cent) are making video calls to friends and family, who in normal times wouldn't have turned to this form of communication.

Women were more likely to take up this technology as compared to men (50 per cent vs 43 per cent).

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