Monday, January 12, 2015

Labour Bureau data on unemployment in Sikkim is flawed: SDF

Party wants Govt to undertake comprehensive employment-unemployment census to settle matter   

GANGTOK, 12 Jan: The ruling Sikkim Democratic Front has argued that the Labour Bureau data which has posted Sikkim as the State with the highest rate of unemployment in the country was flawed and self-contradictory. As such, the party has called on the Government to take cognizance of what the party has explained as “anomalies” in the Labour Bureau report and include a full-fledged comprehensive employment-unemployment survey in the next State Socio-Economic Census due to be conducted. Such a comprehensive survey, the party believes, “will settle this matter which otherwise is misleading”. SDF spokesperson, the Lok Sabha MP PD Rai, issued a detailed press release today explain the issue; it is reproduced below:
“There have been news reports earlier this month that Sikkim has highest unemployment rates in the country. The reports were based on data released by fourth Annual Employment & Unemployment Survey report for 2013-14, released Labour Bureau, under Union Ministry of Labour and Employment. This is the fourth report produced by the Labour Bureau which started conducting such surveys from 2010, due to global economic scenario. The findings of the survey for Sikkim are based on a sample size of 1773 with 953 people in rural areas and 820 people in urban areas providing the responses.
Traditionally the NSSO conducts the employment-unemployment survey, but it is undertaken only every five years. Owing to their vast experience in conducting surveys, NSSO data was often considered by policy makers and planning bodies in framing policies. Other sources of unemployment data include Census 2011 and the Sixth economic Census (2013). While Labour Bureau and NSSO are sample based surveys, Census is comprehensive in its data.
The Labour Bureau had first pointed that Sikkim has highest unemployment in their third report, for the year 2012-13. However, this data along with the current data is in contradiction to various other sources of unemployment data like NSSO (66th round for 2009-10 and 68th round for 2011-12), Census 2011 and Sixth Economic Census (2013). All these reports had given different figures of unemployment in Sikkim and we noticed that Labour Bureau's data has been inconsistent from that given by other reports.
Highlighting few observations which are anomalies in the data provided by Labour Bureau for 2013-14
1.    The data reported by the Labour Bureau for the year 2013-14 has abnormally high labour force participation rate coupled with abnormally low worker population ratio - especially in the case of urban women. This anomaly in the case of Urban Women has skewed the data showing high unemployment ratio in the State.
2.    The data points that even among the youth (aged 18-29), labour force participation rate of urban women is almost 50 percentage points higher than all-India average. While only 202 (out of 1000) women are in labour force in India, the corresponding figure for Sikkim is 687. Goa comes next to Sikkim with 480 out of 1000 and State of Gujarat which recorded lowest unemployment ratio has LFPR in this population segment at 113.The LFPR of urban young women aged 18-29 is higher than LFPR of urban men in the same age category. This is very unusual and remains the only such instance in the entire country.
(Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is a measure of the proportion of a country’s working-age population that engages actively in the labour market, either by working or looking for work.)
3.    Even the Workers Population Ratio is inconsistent with the findings of the same survey in 2012-13. The Workers Population Ratio of Urban women was 214 (out of 1000) in 2012-13 has dropped to 97 in 2013-14. It is implausible that the Workers population ratio among women has dropped from one of the highest in the country to one of the lowest in the country within a span of one year.
(Worker Population Ratio (WPR) is defined as the number of persons employed per 1000 persons.)

4.    The data released by Labour Bureau also consists of Educational status of unemployed people. It is worth noting that while majority of the people in Sikkim with education status Graduate and above fall under "Employed" or "Unemployed" status, in many other states, they are classified under "Not in Labour Force" status. (For e.g. among 1000 people with Graduate degree, in Sikkim, 536 are classified as "Employed", 410 as "Unemployed" and 54 as "Out of labour force". The corresponding figures for Gujarat are 538, 26 and 435.  For Karnataka, it is 637, 34 and 329). This trend can be observed when it comes to people with education status as post-graduate and above.
 (An individual could be "Not in Labour force could be due to various reasons - attending further education, attending domestic duties, recipients of rent, not able to work due to disability and others)
5.    The sample taken by the Labour Bureau this year is in stark contrast to that of last year. While in 2012-13, the sample of rural population was more than twice the sample of urban population, this year they are almost the same. This could have further amplified the effect of low worker population of urban women and does not necessarily portray the true picture.
Apart from these anomalies mentioned, the data suggests that Sikkim is doing considerably better than All-India average when it comes to employment scenario. In fact, it is appropriate to point out that Sikkim is doing much better when it comes to formal vocational training courses. Sikkim has the highest proportion of people receiving formal vocational training - 186 (out of 1000) against All-India average of 28 (out of 1000). 287 (out of 1000) males have received formal vocational training compared to All-India average of 36 (out of 1000). This is also highest in the country. In urban places, this rises up to 545 (out of 1000).
We believe that the current report has discrepancies as mentioned above and therefore is misleading. We also request the Government to look at trends of Rural-Urban migration in search of jobs.
Finally, we request that the Government take cognizance of the anomalies in the Labour Bureau report and include a full-fledged comprehensive employment-unemployment survey in the next State Socio-Economic Census due to be conducted. This will settle this matter which otherwise is misleading.”

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