According to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt., a private consulting company, unemployment rose to 7.97 percent in April from 6.5 percent in March, with more than seven million workers lost in the previous month. In April, India’s unemployment rate hit a four-month peak of nearly 8%, and the forecast remains bleak, with state governments widening lockdowns to combat a huge number of virus cases.
“There is a fall in the jobs available. This could be due to the lockdowns,” CMIE Managing Director Mahesh Vyas said by telephone. “Since the virus is still quite intense and we are stressed on the medical health-services front, it’s likely that the situation will remain tense in May as well.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in March 2020 imposed a total lockdown that resulted in millions of work losses and a record drop in economic growth, is now requesting states to use such initiatives only as a last resort. Local governments have been pressured to increase restrictions as the country’s ageing health system struggles to deal with the influx of virus cases, jeopardizing the country’s fragile economic recovery.
In a separate survey released Monday, IHS Markit found that the manufacturing sector continued to shed employment in April, though at a slower pace than in the previous 13 months. Joblessness is more severe in urban areas as labourers return to their villages, according to the CMIE data, which economists closely monitor in the absence of real-time employment data from the government. In April, the labor-force participation rate, which covers both those who have employment and those who are looking for work fell to just under 40%.
On Sunday, India’s death toll reached a new high of 3,689 people. After India became the first country to file more than 400,000 daily cases on Saturday, the number of new cases slowed marginally on Monday.