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Daily jobless rates spike after night curfews and local lockdowns, signalling early jitters for labour market

Average unemployment rates in both urban and rural India spiked yesterday, shows data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.

December 31, 2021 / 04:19 PM IST
(Representative image: Shutterstock)

(Representative image: Shutterstock)

Daily unemployment rates have spiked as recently imposed night curfews and local lockdowns aimed at curbing Omicron start taking their toll on a labour market that had begun a cautious recovery.   

Average unemployment rates in both urban and rural India spiked yesterday, shows data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). National unemployment rate was 8.01% yesterday, a sequential rise of 28 basis points. Urban unemployment, which was 8% in the week ended Sunday, had accelerated to 9% yesterday.

And these are only early jitters as experts see more job losses going ahead due to the rapidly spreading variant of coronavirus. 

KR Shyam Sundar, a labour economy expert, said the fear of a third pandemic wave is gradually playing out and the night curfews and other steps are understandable. “It is also a fact that with the fall in economic activities due to such local shutdowns and night curfews, you will see job loss both in the informal sector and low paying formal sectors,” he added.

The already battered hospitality and tourism sectors are set to take a big hit from Omicron during the new year and winter travel season. Curbs on retail trade and informal economic activities will also have a cascading impact on the job market.

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And despite active recruitment by IT and ecommerce, the overall job market will continue to struggle. 

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) earlier this week wrote to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi raising jobless concerns for the banquet, restaurants and facility providing sector.

“The sector has seen its worst days in the last two years and is on the verge of recouping losses. It is surprising that restaurants and bars, which have considerably small areas, have been allowed to operate at 50% capacity whereas banquet halls and other venues of events and functions have been ordered completely shut,” the CAIT wrote in its letter.

“The wedding season is scheduled to begin from 14 January …therefore, we humbly pray that banquets and farmhouses be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Needless to mention that this sector is giving huge employment to people of lower strata. In the event of restrictions, there could be huge job losses,” the body said.

Job creation in sectors like retail trade, and travel tourism has remained subdued in recent months. In November, at least 60.3 million people were working in the retail trade segment, almost three million less than in October, according to CMIE data. The travel and tourism segment saw employment go down by 1.5 million. 
Prashant K Nanda
first published: Dec 31, 2021 04:19 pm
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