India's unemployment rate rose to its highest level since 1991 during 2020 as coronavirus pandemic caused economy to come to a screeching halt, according to a study. The nation saw one of the toughest lockdowns in the world starting March last year as the pandemic claimed numerous lives, with stringent restrictions on mobility and economic activities across the board.
India's unemployment rate sharply rose to 7.11 per cent in 2020 from 5.27 per cent in 2019, said a report by Centre for Economic Data and Analysis (CEDA) based on the ILOSTAT database of International Labour Organisation. Going back, India saw its unemployment rate rise between 2008, when it was 5.36 per cent to 5.65 per cent in 2010. It maintained a downward trend between 2013 and 2019, when it came down from 5.67 per cent to 5.27 per cent.
The study also surveyed eight other countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Russia, Brazil, United States, United Kingdom and Germany. India displayed the highest unemployment rate as compared to its closest neighbours, with China at 5 per cent, Bangladesh at 5.3 per cent, Pakistan at 4.65 per cent and Sri Lanka at 4.84 per cent.
India also registered higher unemployment rate compared to United States, United Kingdom and Germany between 2015 and 2019, the report said. However, the US had higher unemployment rate as compared to India in 2020 (8.31 per cent). United Kingdom and Germany had unemployment rates of 4.34 per cent and 4.31 per cent, respectively.
The only other nation after the US to display a higher unemployment rate than India was Brazil. The South American nation saw a substantial rise in unemployment between 2014 (6.66 per cent) and 2020 (13.67 per cent).
The rise in unemployment is likely to continue with India looking at double-digit unemployment rate in May this year, according to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). While the estimated fall in employment may ease or worsen in the last week of May, the losses will remain, the think tank said. India will close May with double-digit unemployment rate, falling employment rate and substantial loss of employment, he cautioned.
A distressing trend that began in May has been the rise in rural unemployment rate. By May 23, it had reached 9.7 per cent, marking an unprecedented level in rural unemployment level. Meanwhile, urban rural unemployment rate in the nation continued to rise, reaching 14.7 per cent by May 23. The country is looking at 10 million job loss during the month.