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Raining jobs: Employment in rural India bounces back, thanks to monsoon

Samrat Sharma
jobs, employment, unemployment, job loss, cmie, rural india, kharif season, jobs in india, nsso, labour participation rate

In a boost to sentiment, employment in India surged last month, led by a substantial pick up in new jobs in rural areas due to improved monsoon rains. However, the good news may be short-lived, as the September spike was due to bunching of jobs, and there could be a cooling off in subsequent months, the surveyor cautioned. "The increase in employment in September is almost entirely in rural India. This increase is likely the result of improved rainfall and a consequent sharp increase in kharif sowing in September," Mahesh Vyas, MD and CEO, CMIE, told Financial Express Online. The overall kharif sowing in 2019 was marginally lower than it was in 2018. But, it was bunched in September and therefore, rural employment shot up in September 2019, Mahesh Vyas said.

The month of September 2019 saw the best labour market in around three years, amid a prolonged phase of an economic slowdown. Just in one month’s time, the unemployment rate fell from 8.2 per cent in August to 7.2 per cent in September, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). However, September unemployment was higher than the 6.5 per cent level in the same month a year ago.   The improvement in jobs has been visible across rural and urban areas, although rural India fared comparatively much better than its urban counterpart.

Underlining the possibility of a seasonal effect on rural employment, the CMIE has highlighted that this sharp increase could be the seasonal monsoon effect and that the delayed monsoon increased agricultural activities sharply during September, which showed up as increased employment in rural India. It is also to be noted that if the increase is largely seasonal and associated with the monsoon and kharif crop-related activities then there are chances that the employment situation may get back to the previous levels again.

Employment is one of the major problems in India for a long time, the NSSO data released early this year pointed out the unemployment rate in India to be at a 45-year high. At this time, the CMIE data showing a substantial improvement in the job conditions have definitely brought a ray of hope for the job conditions in the country. Meanwhile, in the month of August 2019, 40.3 crore people got new jobs, which surged by 70 lakh to 41 crore in September 2019. It was also nearly 70 lakh more than the year-ago level.