Odisha seems bleeding on the job front. The cocktail of marauding job losses and a big spike in the unemployment rate in the urban areas - the job engines - have been wreaking havoc in the State during the last one year.
For which, Odisha languished as the State with the second-highest urban unemployment rate in the country among the major states, excluding hilly states like J&K and Uttarakhand.
Such a joblessness scenario prevailing in the urban areas in the State has been brought to the fore by the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for the quarter of January - March 2021 (the period prior to the hitting of the second wave in the State) released recently.
If the precariousness is overwhelmingly high in the urban areas, the scenario in the rural areas in the State could well be imagined. The urban areas in Odisha have been home to only 17 percent of the job-seeking population but provide employment to nearly 85 percent of the population in the State. And this survey by NSSO has been done in the urban areas only to take stock of the state of employment and unemployment among the urban job-seeking population.
Job Shedding In Odisha
Even as in the last 1-year (Jan-Mar 2020 to Jan-Mar 2021), the job losses measured in the age-group of 15 years and above stood at 2 percent, the loss of jobs among the youth population of 15-29 years had been a massive 5.1 percent, finds the PLFS report.
Going by the Census projection of urban population in the15 years and above in 2021 (56.01 lakh), the State had recorded massive job losses to the tune of 2.24 lakh during the last 1 year.
On the other hand, with respect to the youth population of 15-29 years in the State in 2021(19.08 lakh), the job loss during the last 1-year has been measured at 97,338.
As per the PLFS report, the brunt of job loss to the tune of nearly 7 percent had been recorded in the age - group of 15-29 years during the lockdown period of Apr- June 2020. Though the State saw a rise in job intake by around 2 percent during the quarter of July-Sept 2020, the momentum couldn't be sustained and a job loss of around 1 percent had been recorded in the quarter Oct-Dec 2020 and another 1 percent loss measured in the quarter Jan-Mar 2021. The net job loss in the youth age group over the year had been around 5 percent.
Similarly, in the age group of 15 years and above, the job loss measured in the lockdown period had been around 6.7 percent, but it recovered during the subsequent quarters, except Oct-Dec 2020, to post a net job loss of around 2 percent.
Odisha 2nd In Unemployment Rate
The State simply had a double whammy. Besides the job losses, Odisha's economy failed to create new jobs for the youth population. In the quarter ending Jan-Mar 2021, 1 in every 3 youth in the 15-29 years age-group has no gainful employment at hand. The unemployment rate is acute at 32.5 percent in Jan-Mar 2021 from 26.3 percent in Jan-Mar 2020.
The sheer hopelessness can be measured from the fact that the PLFS survey measured the unemployment rate in the country by excluding an individual who is seeking work and got so for even 1 hour during the last 1-week preceding the survey period.
In absolute number, a whopping 6.2 lakh in 15-29 years age-group in Odisha didn't get any paid work for even 1 hour in a week preceding the survey period.
The unemployment rate in the age-group of 15 years and above during the quarter Jan-March 2021 had been measured at 13.7 per cent as against 11.3 percent in Jan-Mar 2020.
Among the major states in the country, Odisha is second after Kerala in the unemployment rate, reveals the PLFS report.
The absolute number of unemployed in Odisha during the quarter Jan-Mar 2021stood at 7.67 lakh.
Job Loss By Sectors
A glance at the report reveals that while agriculture saw a rise in employment in Jan-Mar 2021 with 9.93 percent in 15 years and above finding some work in the agriculture sector vis-a-vis 3.03 percent employed in Jan-Mar 2020, the largest job provider sector - the tertiary or service sector - in the State witnessed huge job shedding as only 61.81 percent were working in the tertiary sector during the quarter Jan-Mar 2021 as against 68.87 percent in Jan-Mar 2020.
Odisha's manufacturing sector had given more employment in the quarter ending Jan- Mar 2021 with 28.25 percent in the age group of 15 and above in State's urban areas finding even a 1-hr work in the sector vis-a-vis 28.10 percent the previous year's quarter.
"The rise in employment in the agriculture sector should not be read as more job opportunities in the sector. Rather, it is called disguised unemployment. When massive job shedding and no new intake in tertiary/service and manufacturing sector is witnessed, they pick up a job in the farm sector for meagre pay. The motto has been to sustain the life," explained a senior researcher at Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies (NCDS).