World has been in a tailspin since the coronavirus pandemic came to light. Matters have turned worse for India which was already going through a phase of economic slowdown. In March, employment rate fell to its all-time low, whereas unemployment rate saw an unprecedented rise to enter double digits for the first time.
According to data from Centre for Monitoring Economy (CMIE), unemployment rate almost tripled in the week ended March 29 to 23.8 per cent from 8.4 per cent a week ago. The next week, which ended on March 5, it was recorded at 23.4 per cent. Unemployment has been progressively growing since January, when the first cases of coronavirus emerged.
"The unemployment rate in March was 8.7 per cent. This is the highest unemployment rate in 43 months. Or, since September 2016. The rate has climbed rather steeply from the 7.16 per cent level of January 2020," the Mumbai-based think tank said in a recent report.
Employment rate in March fell to an all time low of 38.2 per cent, and the "scene gets much worse as we move into the lockdown period," CMIE said.
Things have not returned to normal during the first two weeks of April. As on April 12, the 30-day moving average of unemployment rate was 13.5 per cent. India has reported double-digit unemployment rate in urban areas before, but it has never been the case in rural India. The ongoing nationwide lockdown has changed that. As agricultural activities remain suspended due to lockdown, unemployment in rural areas has reached 13.08 per cent, whereas it reached 14.53 per cent in urban areas.
"What has happened between January and March is that the number of employed fell from 411 million to 396 million and the number of unemployed increased from 32 million to 38 million. So, the 9 million fall in the labour force consists of a 15 million fall in the count of employed and a 6 million increase in the count of unemployed," the CMIE report said.