The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)-whose data is often quoted by the government to support its case of new job creation in the country-has been consistently revising the job numbers downwards month on month.
The EPFO's February release says that between September 2017 and December 2018, 72.32 lakh new subscribers were added to Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). This itself is a downward revision from 73.50 lakh as per the January release and 79.16 lakh in December release. As months progress, far from growing, the EPFO's numbers have been shrinking instead.
As a result, job creation per month has shrunk from 5.65 lakh as per the December release to 4.9 lakh per month as declared by the February release.
For some of the previous months, the data has been revised downwards by as much as 98 per cent (see table) as compared to previous numbers declared. For March 2018, for instance, while the EPFO release of October claimed 2,73,242 net job creation, in the latest release the number has shrunk to barely 5,498, down 97.99 per cent. Similarly, December 2017 numbers have been cut by 44 per cent, August 2018 by 43 per cent October 2017 by 42 per cent.
In response to a question in the Rajya Sabha regarding downward revision in EPFO numbers, the labour and employment minister had explained: ''While publishing data EPFO has always given the disclaimer that the data is provisional as updation of subscribers' records is a continuous process...data regarding...new entrants for the recent months gets rationalised when the employers file the relevant exit data returns during the subsequent months. The revision in data is part of the process". Often the numbers are revised because employees holding multiple EPFO accounts from previous jobs are given a single Unique Account Number (UAN). The UAN is mandatory since June, 2015.
Since India does not have a dedicated employment measurement system as in the US, EPFO payroll numbers are used as a proxy to measure the employment creation in India.
There has been a massive revision in the EPFO numbers of every month in every successive release.
EPFO's December release which showcased Sept-17 to Oct-18 data had claimed 79.16 lakh new jobs averaging 5.65 lakh a month for the past 14 months.
EPFO's January release, which had data of 15 months between September 17 and November 18, claimed only 73.5 lakh new jobs. Which implies a reduction of 5.65 lakh jobs. That's an average of only 4.9 lakh jobs per month in the past 15 months.
Jobs in September, 2017 have been revised downwards from 4.25 lakh to 2.90 lakh; November, 2017 from 6.06 lakh to just 4.59 lakh. Even numbers for a month as recent as November, 2018 have been revised from 7.32 lakh to just 5.80 lakh, raising a big question mark over the credibility and reliability of job creation claims by the Centre.
The employment number for the month of December 2017 has been revised by 43.81 per cent or 1.85 lakh jobs, since the October release. The employment figures of December has been revised by 17.73 per cent (74,905 jobs), with a further reduction of 11.23 per cent in the January release (62,451 jobs) and 15.21 per cent (42,583 jobs) in the February release.
Similarly, October 2017 and August 2018 employment numbers have seen a dip of 41.79 per cent and 42.81 per cent respectively since the October release of EPFO. The month of August 2018 also witnessed the highest correction in the employment numbers of 1.97 lakhs in the December release of EPFO.
In comparison with the October release of EPFO, the least change has been recorded in November 2017 in which there has been a downward revision of 24.2 per cent followed by 27 per cent downward revision in April 2018 and 27.58 per cent downward revision in January 2018.