Two recent developments with respect to India’s labour market warrant our attention. First, the United Nations estimated India to have surpassed China as the world’s most populous country, with our share of working age population to increase for another 13 years. Second, Professor Claudia Goldin won the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work on female participation in the workforce.
These have coincided with the release of India’s annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) in record time last month, allowing us to place current trends in youth and female employment in perspective. Rising youth employment: Driven by northern and central states: Over the years, youth employment has been rising in tandem with India’s youth population. According to the PLFS, the youth (age 15-29 years) unemployment rate has declined from 17.8% in 2017-18 to 10% in 2022-23, while the youth’s labour force participation rate (LFPR) has risen from 38.2% to 44.5% over this period.
For the proportion of employed youth to rise from 31% to 40.1% in six years is no mean feat for a populous country on the upside of a demographic transition. Zooming in to state-level data, India’s decline in the youth unemployment rate has been led by states with larger chunks of a young population, such as Uttar Pradesh (with 69 million youth as per the health ministry’s population estimates for 2021), Bihar (with 35 million youth), and Madhya Pradesh (with 23 million youth). Example: UP’s youth unemployment rate has declined from 16.7% in 2017-18 to 7.0% in 2022-23, accompanied by a rise in youth LFPR from 33.7% to 41.4% in the same period.Read more on livemint.com