India Employment Report 2024

The recently released India Employment Report 2024, the third in a series by the Institute for Human Development in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), examines youth employment challenges in the context of India’s evolving economic, labour market, educational, and skills scenarios over the past two decades. Here are the key highlights of the report:

India’s Labour Market Conditions

There have been “paradoxical improvements” in labour market indicators in India in recent years after long-term deterioration from 2000-2019, coinciding with periods of economic distress. Key concerns include:

  • Reversal of the slow transition to non-farm employment
  • Increase in self-employment and unpaid family work, especially for women
  • Lower quality youth employment compared to adults
  • Stagnant or declining wages and earnings

Unemployment Rates

  • The unemployment rate fell between 2019-2022 after rising from 2000-2019
  • Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, and UP have remained at the bottom of the ’employment condition index’, while Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Uttarakhand, and Gujarat have stayed at the top.

Employment Quality

  • Informal employment has risen, with around half of formal sector jobs being informal in nature
  • Self-employment remains the primary source of work at 55.8% in 2022, up from ~52% in 2000-2019
  • Regular employment, associated with better job quality, declined to 21.5% in 2022 after increasing to 23.8% in 2019 from 14.2% in 2000
  • Casual employment, linked to poorer job quality, fell to 22.7% in 2022 from 33.3% in 2000

Women’s Labor Force Participation

  • India’s female labour force participation rate (LFPR) remains among the world’s lowest at 32.8% in 2022, 2.3 times lower than men’s
  • Female LFPR declined 14.4 percentage points from 2000-2019 but rose 8.3 points from 2019-2022
  • India’s female LFPR in 2022 was lower than the global average of 47.3% but higher than South Asia’s 24.8%

Sectoral Employment Shifts

  • The share of agriculture in total employment fell from 60% in 2000 to ~42% in 2019, largely absorbed by construction and services
  • This slow transition has stagnated or reversed since 2018-19
  • Manufacturing’s share of employment has remained around 12-14%

Youth Employment

  • Youth employment and underemployment rose from 2000-2019 but fell during the pandemic
  • Unemployment is much higher among educated youth, especially graduates
  • The unemployment rate for secondary educated youth was 18.4% in 2022 vs 3.4% for those who cannot read or write
  • Graduate unemployment was 29.1% overall, 34.5% for women and 26.4% for men
  • Educated youth unemployment rose from 23.9% in 2000 to 30.8% in 2019 before falling to 18.4% in 2022

Policy Recommendations

  • Promote job creation, especially in manufacturing
  • Improve employment quality and address inequalities
  • Strengthen skills development and active labour policies
  • Support MSMEs with digitalization, AI and cluster-based approaches
  • Boost productive employment in emerging care and digital economies
  • Provide job security and wage protections for gig/platform workers
  • Bridge knowledge gaps on labour market patterns and youth employment

The report aims to provide timely and constructive input for policymakers, social partners, civil society, and researchers in the coming years.


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