Chennai: Around 6.6 million white-collar professionals lost their jobs after the coronavirus lockdown, washing away all employment gains made since 2016. Among the salaried class, industrial workers lost 5 million jobs, as per the data from the private think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).
The government has not yet come out with any data on Covid-19 induced job losses across sectors.
As per CMIE’s analysis of data from its 20th wave of Consumer Pyramids Household Survey, among the salaried class, white-collar professional employees witnessed the biggest loss in terms of jobs. These include engineers including software engineers, physicians, teachers, accountants and analysts, who are professionally qualified and are employed in some private or government organisation.
However, this does not include the similarly professionally qualified people who run their own practice as these are classified as ’Qualified self-employed professional entrepreneurs’.
Employment in the category of white collar professional employees and other employees has been rising steadily since 2016 when the survey began tracking them. An estimated 12.5 million white-collar professional employees were employed during the survey of January-April 2016.
A year ago, during the survey of May-August 2019, their employment peaked at 18.8 million. It remained almost stable at 18.7 million in the next survey of September-December 2019 and then fell to 18.1 million during the survey of January-April 2020. This survey contained a partial impact of the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Employment of these professionally qualified white collar workers fell steeply to 12.2 million during the survey of May-August 2020. This is the lowest employment of these professionals since 2016. All the gains made in their employment over the past four years were washed away during the lockdown.
Another group to have suffered big job loss among salaried class is industrial workers. Around 5 million industrial workers lost their jobs post lockdown, translating into a 26 per cent fall in employment in the group over a year.
The decline in employment of industrial workers is likely to be largely in the smaller industrial units. This job loss also reflects the distress in the micro, small and medium industrial units in recent times.
The government has been evasive to the queries by members of Parliament about the post-Covid job losses. The latest data available with the government with regard to unemployment across different sectors is from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted by the National Sample Survey Office in 2017-18.
When asked by members of parliament on whether the government has done any assessment of the job loss among migrant workers due to the Covid-19 crisis, minister of state for Labour and Employment, Santosh Kumar Gangwar on September 14 had said that “no such data is maintained”.
Responding to another query on Thursday, the External Affairs ministry said that over 3 lakh Indian nationals working abroad have returned due to the pandemic. However, the ministry does not have any data as to how many of them have lost their jobs.
However, the Civil Aviation ministry came out with some data on job losses in the sector post lockdown. According to the ministry over 18,000 people working with airlines, airports, ground handling agencies and cargo operators, have lost jobs between March-end and July-end.