India’s unemployment rate for people aged 15 years and above across urban areas slipped to 8.2% during January-March 2022, the National Statistical Office's (NSO) 14th Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) shows.

The unemployment rate among females in urban areas in the said age group declined to 10.1%. For males, the unemployment rate dipped to 7.7% during January-March 2022. During the same period last year, the country's unemployment rate, as per the NSO survey, was 9.3%, with male joblessness at 8.6%, and female unemployment at 11.8%.

During the previous quarter of 2021-22 (October–December 2021), the NSO had estimated the unemployment rate (for people aged 15 years or above) at 8.7%. In FY22, the unemployment rate across urban areas was the highest during April-June 2021 quarter at 12.6%.

The work-population ratio, or WPR, in current weekly status (CWS) across urban areas for people aged 15 and above stood at 43.4% in January-March 2022, a marginal increase from 43.2% during the previous quarter (October-December 2021).

The labour force participation rate among males and females in current weekly status for the same age group across urban areas stood at 47.3% in January-March 2022, the same as the previous quarter of the fiscal year. The labour force refers to the population that supplies or offers to supply labour for the production of goods and services.

The workers in current weekly status are classified into three broad categories — self-employed, regular wage/salaried employee, and casual labour.

Across the country in the urban areas, a total number of 5,714 first-stage sampling units were surveyed during January-March 2022. A total of 44,778 urban households comprising 1,73,091 people were surveyed, says the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

The ministry says during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the NSO's fieldwork was suspended in most parts of the country for short durations and was subsequently resumed with COVID-19-related restrictions. "This, therefore, had a spill-over effect in completion of pending field work during subsequent quarters. However, with extra efforts by the field staff, the pendency of fieldwork could be gradually reduced," it adds.

The ministry says there was no break in the flow of information collected for any quarter except that informants were approached at a later date due to the unavoidable situation.

The NSO launched the Periodic Labour Force Survey in April 2017 to collect labour force data more frequently. The main aim of the survey is to estimate the key employment and unemployment indicators. It also assesses these indicators in both ‘usual status’ and CWS across rural and urban areas annually.

Meanwhile, in May, the unemployment rate saw a significant decline to 7.12% in May 2022 from 7.83% in April 2022, the data by the private think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) shows. At the same time, the number of employed people increased marginally by one million, taking the total employment to 404 million (37.07% employment rate) from 402.9 million (37.05%) in April 2022.

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