There has been steady growth in wages for the past decade and a half. Most sectors, except agriculture, have reported an increase in real wages by 3 per cent or more annually.
However, monthly earnings of most of the working population of India continue to be low. 82 per cent of male and 92 per cent of female workers earn less than Rs 10, 000 a month, finds 'State of Working India' report.
The report by Azim Premji University studied India's labour market to examine the quantity of employment and unemployment across sectors and industries.
India has been struggling to convert its high rates of economic growth into good jobs. Currently, a 10 per cent increase in GDP results in less than 1 per cent increase in employment. In fact, in spite of its demographic dividend, the rate of unemployment among the youth and higher educated has reached 16 per cent.
The good news though is the past decade has been good for the performance of the organised manufacturing sector. Several industries (especially, big employers like knitwear, plastics, and footwear) have delivered on wage growth and job growth. In part this is because workers are no longer being replaced by machines as fast as they were in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, the better performance is not being translated into better pay. Labour productivity has grown several times faster than wages. As a result employers have benefitted far more from growth than workers.
The report also found that caste and gender disparity in jobs remain high. For example, women are 16 per cent of all service sector workers, but 60 per cent of domestic workers. Similarly, Scheduled Castes (SC) formed 18.5 per cent of all workers, but 46 per cent of total leather workers.The report proposes that the Union Government develop a National Employment Policy in close collaboration with the States. It recommends building on the experience of the need to examine successful state-level employment policies and learn from the diversity of state experiences. It also makes a strong case for creating a Universal Basic Services (UBS) programme that invests in education, health, housing, and public transport and safety to create jobs, human capital, and public goods.