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Jobs data may come along with note on methodology

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The Economic Times
21st March, 2019 07:19 IST

NEW DELHI: The controversial periodic labour force survey (PLFS) report that has showed high unemployment follows a different methodology from the earlier ones and is therefore not comparable, a government official said.

The government is likely to put out a detailed note on the methodology when it releases the survey.

The survey report had shown unemployment at a 45-year high in 2017-18. The government has not released the report saying it is a draft report that has anomalies and has referred it back to the standing committee on labour force statistics (SCLFS) to look into the results.

The official said the survey covers employment-unemployment among those who passed class X while the earlier surveys looked at per capita expenditure of households.

“These are two different metrics, two different results. So, their comparison should come with riders,” said the official.

Explaining, the official said, improving education levels has increased the aspiration level of people, which is reflecting in graduates’ unwillingness to do casual labour work and join the workforce.

“This phenomenon has happened in the last 7-8 years in both rural and urban, and this has an implication,” the official said. The report shows a decline in male workforce.

“The PLFS has an inherent focus, an intrinsic bias to find employment-unemployment in the educated,” the official added.

The suggestion to give disclaimers is expected in the recommendations of the SCLFS, which met last week to discuss abnormalities in the report and has proposed to form a sub-committee to look at methodology of PLFS surveys to take place after July. The jobs data under review is till the December quarter and is likely to be released by the end of this month. However, there are no changes in the survey report from the estimates that have been released.

“The broad trend and direction of the survey shows that unemployment has increased.

Even the CMIE survey, whose methodology has not been changed, has confirmed these findings,” said a statistician aware of the details.


“Moreover, household approach is the only way to determine unemployment numbers. Mudra and EPFO data don’t fit in and are not proxies to the household survey.”

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data showed unemployment rate rose to highest in 28 months to 7.2% in February 2019.

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