On the Massive Crisis of Unemployment

(Adopted by the 23rd Congress on April 8, 2022)

The extent of unemployment in India has risen sharply, both in absolute numbers and as a share of the labour force, in these four years since the 22nd Party Congress.

The official data on unemployment are a gross underestimation. The distress is especially severe in view of the absence of any meaningful social security provisions for the overwhelming majority of the population.

Rise in unemployment has been more or less continuous over the last several years, with the slowdown in the economy as well as the severe setback to the informal sector following the disastrous demonetization (November, 2016) and badly designed and implemented GST (July 1, 2017 onwards). The data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey for reference year 2017-18 showed that all unemployment indicators had risen sharply between 2011-12 and 2017-18. The so-called usual status unemployment rate rose from 2.2 per cent in 2011-12 to 6.1 per cent in 2017-18. The corresponding ‘current weekly status’ rates were close to 10% for the young and even higher for those with some level of formal education in 2017-18. Unemployment  considerably worsened by the manner in which the Union government handled the pandemic and by its ultra-neoliberal economic policies that denied adequate provision of cash and grain transfers to households outside the income tax net.

The unemployment rates among persons in the age group 15 to 29, and among those with some formal education are very high. For the age groups of 20 to 24 years and 25 to 29 years, the unemployment rates in the year 2020-21 were 39 per cent and 13 percent respectively. The rate for persons who have completed 12 years of formal schooling was more than 10 per cent and, for those having graduate degree and above, 20.4 per cent. Unemployment among women is also increasing very rapidly. Nearly 35 per cent of women graduate remain unemployed. These data do not track the massive problem of underemployment in the economy.

Lacks of vacancies in central, state governments and various departments of the PSUs are ling vacant. Many of them are being de-notified. The 23rd Congress demands immediate filling of these vacancies.

The 23rd Congress of the CPI(M) demands that 200 person-days of employment be provided for each worker under MGNREGA, and that an Urban Employment Guarantee be introduced in all urban areas of India. The government should substantially increase its expenditure on education and infrastructural facilities thereby generating employment. The Congress calls for intensifying the struggle for reversing neoliberal policies and advancing instead along a path of democratic development that would create decent jobs and a living wage for all.