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India – Jobless rate at multi-decade high

An official survey that has been withheld by the government shows India’s unemployment rate rose to its highest level in at least 45 years in 2017/18, the Business Standard newspaper reported on Thursday, delivering a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi months before a general election.

A political controversy over the survey erupted after the acting chairman and another member of the body that reviewed the jobs data resigned, saying there had been a delay in its scheduled December release and alleging interference by other state agencies.

The assessment by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), conducted July 2017-June 2018, showed an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. That was the highest since 1972/73, the period for which the data are comparable, the newspaper reported, citing documents it had reviewed. It did not give a figure for 1972/73.

But the government think-tank NITI Aayog said the report was only a draft and that a final version would be published in March. It denied unemployment was widespread in India, whose economy is one of the fastest growing in the world.

“You can’t be growing annually at 7.2 percent and saying that there are no jobs being created in the economy,” NITI Aayog Chief Executive Amitabh Kant said at a press conference.

“To my mind, the problem is that there’s a lack of good-quality jobs, and that’s what we need to focus on. There’s a wages problem, and there’s a very big informal sector in India’s economy.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Indian jobless rate at multi-decade high, report says, in blow to Modi | Reuters

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