Working Population in India falling with a Majority of Women Choosing not to Work

By: Navyasri, Writer, Womenentrepreneurindia

More than half of the 90 million Indians of legal working age, particularly women, say they don't want to work because they can't find the right kind of work. The startling figures were published by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a Mumbai-based private research agency.

According to Bloomberg, who cited the CMIE data, about 2 crore women left the workforce between 2017 and 2022, leaving only 9% of the eligible population employed or looking for job. During the same time period, the overall labour rate fell from 46% to 40%.

The findings come at a time when India is putting its faith in its young workforce, which is becoming increasingly dissatisfied due to a lack of possibilities. Though earlier CMIE data showed that the jobless rate fell to 7.6% in March from 8.10% in February, the proportion is still relatively high given the large number of Indians of legal working age.

In March, Haryana had the highest unemployment rate of 26.7 percent, followed by Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir, both at 25%, Bihar at 14.4 percent, Tripura at 14.1 percent, and West Bengal at 5.6 percent.

Future of Indian Economy

The Indian economy is currently in the hands of young people. With the youth in charge of one of the world's fastest-growing economies, the latest data points to an intimidating threat to the Indian economy. The entire labour rate fell from 46 percent to 40 percent between 2017 and 2022, according to data. The report also found that, with nearly 21 million women leaving the economy, women now account for only 9% of the workforce, which includes both working and searching for work.

The majority of the 900 million Indians who are legally employed, which is more than the combined population of the United States and Russia, have given up looking for work. According to current statistics, Economist, Societe Generale GSC Pvt Kunal Kundu “The large share of discouraged workers suggests that India is unlikely to reap the dividend that its young population has to offer, India will likely remain in a middle-income trap, with the K-shaped growth path further fueling inequality.”

This reduction in its personnel could be a major setback for India's economic progress. With millions of Indians out of work, the country may soon lose its status as a developed country. Between the ages of 15 and 64, there has been tremendous rivalry for any job that pays more than minimum wages in recent years. Even for those who have graduated from the most prestigious institutions, job opportunities are restricted. 

A growing number of women are quitting their employment

According to recent data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt, a private research business in Mumbai, millions of Indians, particularly women, are leaving the labour field totally because they can't find the suitable kind of employment.

Women have been hit the hardest, with only 9% of women currently employed. Safety concerns and societal restraints are among the reasons, as are never-ending domestic chores.

In a January report titled 'India's shrinking female workforce,' the Centre for Economic Data and Analysis and the CMIE compared pre-COVID-19 and post-pandemic levels and found that women's national average monthly employment in 2021 was 6.4 percent lower than in 2019.

Women's average monthly employment in urban areas also fell sharply in 2019, with 22.1 percent fewer women employed than in 2019. According to the survey, fewer women actively looked for work in 2021 than in both 2019 and 2020, with the fall being more pronounced in the latter.

Tamil Nadu (-50.9), Goa (-56%), Jammu and Kashmir (then a state, -61%), and Punjab (-50.9) all had a more than 50% drop in average monthly female employment in 2021 compared to 2019. (-57.9 percent ).

In 2021, India's average monthly female employment increased by 4.9 percent over 2020, but decreased by 6.4 percent over 2019. The distinction between urban and rural areas was more pronounced. In urban India in 2021, average female employment was 6.9% lower than in 2020 and 22.1 percent lower than in the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Female employment in rural India, on the other hand, was 9.2 percent greater in 2021 than in 2020 and only 0.1 percent lower than in 2019, according to a January report.

In 2021, there were 22.1 percent fewer women employed in urban India than in 2019. In addition, in 2021, fewer women were actively hunting for work.

In 2019, over 95 lakh women actively looked for work every month, but that figure dropped to 83 lakh in 2020 and only 6.52 million in 2021. Both urban and rural India have seen this pattern.

In June 2019, the Periodic Labour Force Survey for 2017-18 reported a significant drop in women's involvement in the workforce. According to the 68th Round of the National Sample Study Organization survey, just approximately 22% of women of working age (defined as 15 years or older) were gainfully employed, down from over 31% in 2011-12.

For women, the reasons may be related to personal safety or time-consuming domestic responsibilities. Despite accounting for nearly half of India's population, women contribute only 18 percent of the country's economic output, less than half the global average.

Mahesh Vyas of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) stated “Women do not join the labour force in as many numbers because jobs are often not kind to them, For example, men are willing to change trains to reach their job. Women are less likely to be willing to do that. This is happening on a very large scale.”

The administration attempted to address the problem of female unemployment by announcing intentions to raise the age of marriage for women to 21 years. This action was supposed to bring about a change and increase women's participation in the workforce, allowing them to seek higher degrees and careers. However, the Indian economy's future remains uncertain at this time.