Unemployment has reduced after the Covid-19 pandemic across all education levels but remains above 15% for graduates and worryingly touches 42% for graduates who are under 25 years of age, according to a report by Azim Premji University. The report cites data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2021-22.

Unemployment is in the range of 2-3% for workers who are 40 and above but less educated.

"Over the long-run GDP growth and employment growth have been uncorrelated in India suggesting that policies oriented towards achieving faster GDP growth will not necessarily speed up job creation," the report titled State of Working India 2023 says.

Since the 1990s year-on-year non-farm GDP growth and non-farm employment growth are uncorrelated with each other suggesting that policies promoting faster growth need not promote faster job creation, the report points out.

The majority of women still remain outside the workforce due to supply and demand side challenges, the report says.

"After falling for years, women's workforce participation rate is rising, but not for the right reasons: After falling or being stagnant since 2004, female employment rates have risen since 2019 due to a distress-led increase in self-employment. Before Covid, 50% of women were self-employed. After Covid this rose to 60%. As a result earnings from self-employment declined in real terms over this period. Even two years after the 2020 lockdown, self-employment earnings were only 85% of what they were in the April-June 2019 quarter," it says.

The report, however, claims that gender-based earnings disparities have reduced. "In 2004, salaried women workers earned 70% of what men earned. By 2017 the gap had reduced and women earned 76% of what men did. Since then the gap has remained constant till 2021-22," it says.

The decline in women's employment since 2004 has been witnessed across social groups, but the levels are very different pointing to the possible importance of gender norms on the supply side such as barriers to mobility as well as the demand side such as discrimination by employers, says the report.

In August, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) said food delivery platform workers saw an 11% decline in their average monthly real income between 2019 and 2022 due to inflation and rising fuel costs. Monthly incomes of long-shift food delivery workers plunged 11% to ₹11,963 in May 2022 from ₹13,470 in 2019, the economic policy think tank says in a study titled 'Socio-economic Impact Assessment of Food Delivery Platform Workers'.

Workers working for 11-hour slots were labelled 'long-shift workers'; this includes wait time between orders and wait time at restaurants to collect orders. Others were 'short-shift workers', who worked for 5 hours, or on weekends, or on special days. The average income of short-shift workers slipped 10% to ₹7,157 in 2022 from ₹7,999 in 2019.

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