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Indian Government sets up panel to improve transparency in employment data releases

On 11 June, an official press statement released by the Ministry of Labour and Employment stated that the Indian Government has set up a committee headed by former chief statistician of India Mr T.C.A Anant to bring transparency in data releases in the country.

The release said that the Government has recently taken steps to promote transparency in the processing, analysing, and presentation of employment-related data; it plans to provide accurate and complete information to end users and the public in general on the processes that are involved in the analysis and generation of the job-related data.

In India, the Labour Bureau conducts two major employment based surveys - the Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey (Annual EUS) and the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES). Thus far, the Labour Bureau has conducted five Annual Employment-Unemployment Surveys and the reports for each have been released (the field work of the last Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey 2016-2017 has been completed and data entry validation is in progress). 

Since the report in 2016, the Labour Bureau under the Ministry has not conducted another Annual Employment- Unemployment survey, but according to the press release, the report for the sixth Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey will be completed by September 2018. 

The Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey was later replaced by the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) as suggested by the Task Force on Employment. The PLFS is conducted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) and will not only contain the annual data on the employment-unemployment situation in the rural sector but will also have the quarterly data on the employment-unemployment situation in the urban sector based on larger sample size.

The release stated that the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) is an enterprise based survey and the aim is to measure the relative change in the state of employment over successive quarters for institutions that employ ten or more workers. The QES assesses employment change in eight sectors; Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education, Health, Accommodation & Restaurants and IT/BPO (Information Technology/ Business Process Outsourcing). The fifth QES report was released by Labour Bureau on 29 December 2017. According to the report, there was an overall increase in employment of around 185,000 workers during the January- March quarter of 2017.

The Ministry outlined the limitations of the QES in the press release, including 6th Economic Census (January 2013 - April 2014)’s failure to include the units that had been added after April 2014. The Ministry also noted that the QES also only studies the employment activities of enterprises that employ a minimum of 10 workers. As a result, the QES effectively captures the employment size of about 24 million workers only as against the total workforce of about 470 million.

Therefore, to make data regarding employment more inclusive and transparent, the Ministry has formed a committee chaired by Mr T.C.A Anant that will produce a comprehensive report to study aspects of employment data that were not previously considered.

The Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) has also begun releasing payroll data on monthly basis.

The press released also stated that the Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi’s Employment Promotion Plan (Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana- PMRPY), has enrolled around 4.6 million new employees covering about 58,400 establishments, and an amount of IN ₹855 crore (around US $125 million) has been spent on the scheme.

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