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State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid-19 report

State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid-19 report

Why in news?

  • A report titled ‘State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid­19’ brought out annually by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment, Bengaluru has been released.
  • The report covers the period March 2020 to December 2020, dwells on the impact of one year of Covid­-19 on employment, incomes, inequality and poverty.

Key Findings Of The Report

  • 100 million jobs were lost during the April-May 2020 lockdown.
  • Though most of these workers had found employment by June 2020, about 15 million remained out of work.
  • For an average household of four members, the monthly per capita income in October 2020 (Rs. 4,979) was still below its level in January 2020 (Rs. 5,989).
  • Monthly earnings of workers fell on an average by 17% during the pandemic, with self employed and informal salaried workers facing the highest loss of earnings.
  • Post-lockdown, nearly half of salaried workers had moved into informal work, either as self-employed (30%), casual wage (10%) or informal salaried (9%).

Impact on Women

  • During the lockdown and in the post lockdown months, 61% of working men remained employed while 7% lost their job and did not return to work.              State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid-19 report
  • But in the case of women, only 19% remained employed while 47% suffered a permanent job loss, “not returning to work even by the end of 2020”.
  • The lack of fallback options for women is clear in Figure 4. It shows women leaving the workforce from every employment arrangement. For men, the share leaving the workforce is much smaller. Rather, when they lost jobs, they transitioned to self-employment.
  • For working women, the burden of domestic work increased without any corresponding relief in hours spent in employment.
  • According to the India Working Survey conducted in Karnataka and Rajasthan, the proportion of working women who spent more than 2 hours a day cooking went up from 20 per cent to almost 62 per cent in Karnataka and from 12 to 58 per cent in Rajasthan.
  • Alongside women, younger workers were much more impacted, experiencing higher job losses and a weaker recovery.              State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid-19 report
  • 33% of workers in the 15-24 years age group failed to recover employment even by Dec 2020. This number was only 6% in the 25-44 years group.

Increase in Poverty Rate

  • The job loss and fall in earnings caused a large increase in poverty.
  • Households coped with the loss of income by decreasing their food intake, selling assets and borrowing informally from friends, relatives and money­lenders.
  • With 230 million falling below the national minimum wage threshold of Rs. 375 per day during the pandemic, poverty rate has “increased by 15 percentage points in rural and nearly 20 percentage points in urban areas”.

Suggestions By The Report

  • Extending free rations under the PDS beyond June, at least till the end of 2021.
  • Cash transfer of K5,000 for three months to as many vulnerable households as can be reached with the existing digital infrastructure, including but not limited to Jan Dhan accounts.
  • Expansion of MGNREGA entitlement to 150 days and revising programme wages upwards to state minimum wages. Expanding the programme budget to at least I1.75 lakh crores.
  • Launching a pilot urban employment programme in the worst hit districts, possibly focused on women workers.            State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid-19 report
  • Increasing the central contribution in old-age pensions to at least I500.
  • Automatically enrolling all MGNREGA workers who do construction work, as registered workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers (BoCW) Act so that they can access social security benefits.
  • A Covid hardship allowance to 2.5 million Anganwadi and ASHA workers of I30,000 (5,000 per month for six months).

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