Net new enrolments with retirement fund body EPFO rose by 28.60 per cent to 78.58 lakh during the financial year 2019-20 compared to 61.1 lakh in the last fiscal, according to the Economic Survey 2021, which also provided a perspective on formal sector employment amid the coronavirus pandemic.
These estimates of formal employment are net of the members newly enrolled, exited, and re-joined during the year as per records of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). During FY21, net new EPF subscribers showed an increase across all age groups and had peaked in September 2020 to 14.2 lakh subscribers, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while presenting the Economic Survey 2020-21 in Parliament on Friday, January 29.
The Economic Survey 2020-21 observed that unemployment rates at the all-India level, for all ages, declined marginally to 5.8 per cent in 2018-19 from 6.1 per cent in 2017-18. The decline in unemployment rate was widespread across all the categories, while the highest decline was seen among those who have received formal vocational or technical training.
The survey stated that the size of the labour force in 2018-19 was estimated at about 51.8 crore persons: about 48.8 crore employed and 3 crore unemployed. The size of the labour force increased by about 0.85 crore between 2017-18 and 2018-19. Out of these, 0.46 crore were from the urban sector and 0.39 crore were from the rural sector. The gender composition of the increase in the labour force comprised about 0.64 crore males and about 0.21 crore females.
The number of unemployed people declined by about 0.79 crore between 2017-18 and 2018-19, largely in the category of females, and rural sector. The female labour force participation rate increased from 17.5 per cent in 2017-18 to 18.6 per cent in 2018-19. These facts reveal that 2018-19 was a good year for employment generation, says the Survey.
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Industry-wise estimates on workforce show that the largest, about 21.5 crore persons were employed in 'agriculture', which is still the largest employer with 42.5 per cent of the workforce. The next important industry was 'other services' where about 6.4 crore persons (13.8 per cent) were engaged. 'manufacturing' and 'trade, hotel & restaurants' each employed about 5.9 crore persons with the share of nearly 12.1 per cent and 12.6 per cent respectively, while 'construction' sector employed about 5.7 crore persons in 2018-19 with a share of 12.1 per cent. Employed persons have significantly increased in agriculture, manufacturing, and transport storage & communication in 2018-19 from 2017-18.
As per the Economic Survey, 2019 and 2020 are landmark years in the history of labour reforms, when the country saw nearly 29 Central Labour Laws being amalgamated, rationalised, and simplified into four labour codes: the Code on Wages, 2019, the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and the Code on Social Security, 2020. This has brought these laws in tune with the changing labour market trends and at the same time accommodated the minimum wage requirement and welfare needs of the unorganised sector workers, including the self-employed and migrant workers, within the framework of legislation, the Survey noted.