The Lede
A fishermen team  pulling the fishing nets toward the beach of Kovalam in Kerala, India. Photo by Lorenz Berna
A fishermen team pulling the fishing nets toward the beach of Kovalam in Kerala, India. Photo by Lorenz Berna

Unemployment In Kerala Double The National Average

Team Lede

Team Lede

Unemployment In Kerala Double The National Average

Lack of industry and a void in the service sector renders over 38 lakh people unemployed

When heated debates are happening on the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) leaked report on unemployment rates in India, the Kerala Economic Review 2018 tabled in the January assembly session reveals that unemployment in God’s Own Country is nearly twice the all-India average. Worse, it is higher than the data on unemployment rates tabled by the NSSO report.

The withheld NSSO report which was leaked to the press revealed that the country’s unemployment rate rose to a 45-year high during the period between July 2017 and June 2018. At 6.1% this is the highest seen since 1972-73.

38.75 Lakh Job Seekers

According to Kerala’s Directorate of Employment data, in 2018 there were 38.75 lakh job seekers in the state. It was 37.75 lakh in 2017 and 35.23 lakh in 2016.

Unemployment In Kerala Double The National Average

According to the 2011 population census, Kerala’s population is around 3.3 crore.

Women appear to be seeking more jobs in Kerala. Of the total job seekers, 62% are women.

Unemployment In Kerala Double The National Average

The 2018 data reveals that in the distribution of job seekers by educational level, only 9% have qualifications below SSLC. About 91% are in the category of having passed SSLC and above.

Unemployment In Kerala Double The National Average

Professional and technical job seekers as on 31 October 2018 are 2.87 lakh.

Data reveals that ITI certificate holders and diploma holders in engineering together constitute 69% of the total professional and technical job seekers. There are 41,483 registered engineering graduates and 5142 medical graduates.

The Review reveals that Kerala has the highest unemployment rate of 12.5% as against the all-India level of 5%.

This is much higher than NSSO’s India unemployment rate, which is 6.1% and the Review adds that the unemployment problem is more serious among the educated in Kerala who are unable to utilise their skill and knowledge they have acquired for effecting qualitative changes in the economy and society.

Among all states, only small states like Sikkim, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh have a higher unemployment rate than Kerala.

Unemployment In Kerala Double The National Average

The other major states, which have unemployment rates lower than the national average of 5% are Karnataka (1.5%), Chhattisgarh (1.9%), Maharashtra (2.1%), Andhra Pradesh (3.9%), Tamil Nadu (4.2%), Madhya Pradesh (4.3%) and West Bengal (4.9%).

 Usual, Weekly and Daily Status

The unemployment rate, defined as a proportion of the number unemployed to the total labour force (15−60 years of age), is measured in terms of Usual Status, Weekly Status and Daily Status.

While usual activity status implies regular unemployment, both weekly and daily status represent seasonal/temporary unemployment.

As per Usual Principal Status (UPS) approach, the lowest unemployment rate of 0.3% is estimated in Daman and Diu and among the states, the lowest unemployment rate is estimated in Gujarat (0.9%).

The UPS approach relates to the activity status of a person during the 365 days preceding the date of survey.

The activity on which a person has spent relatively longer time (183 days or more) during this period is considered the principal employment status of the person. A person unemployed for this duration or more indicates chronic unemployment.

Unemployment among women, particularly in rural areas, is a matter of concern too in Kerala.

By any method of calculation, unemployment in Kerala is found to be generally three to four times the all-India average.

The unemployment rate of Kerala under UPS approach is 9.8% which is a more authentic figure as it is prepared on a more scientific basis on a larger sample size.

Unskilled Youth

In Kerala, the youth aged between 15 and 29 accounts for around 23% of the state’s population.

As per the survey report, the unemployment rate among the youth in Kerala is much higher as compared to that of the overall population and it reveals the severity of the unemployment problem among this segment.

The unemployment rate of the youth is 21.7% for rural areas and 18% for urban areas. Area-wise unemployment report data reveals that 47.4% of females are unemployed in a rural area as against males of 9.7%.

According to the notes in the Review, youth unemployment is prevalent in Kerala because young people lack adequate skills and work experience in emerging areas.

Organised and Unorganised Sectors

The Review reveals that, in Kerala, employment in the organised sector has remained more or less stagnant, showing only a marginal increase from 10.89 lakh in 2012 to 12.14 lakh in 2018.

The reason behind this trend is due to the movement of the labour force to the sectors which provides more employment in the state.

The organised sector comprises private and public sectors and it is noteworthy that private sector employment is steadily increasing since 2011 onwards.

In 2018, out of 12.14 lakh persons employed in the organised sector, 5.54 lakh (46%) are in the public sector and 6.6 lakh (54%) are in the private sector.

Unemployment In Kerala Double The National Average

Within the public sector employment 46% are employed in state government and 11% in central government, 24% are in state quasi-government institutions, 4% in Local Self Government Institutions and 15% are in central quasi-government institutions.

A high proportion of socially and economically weaker sections of society are engaged in the unorganised economic activities in India and Kerala.

As per the employment and unemployment survey carried out by the NSSO based on UPS approach, it is estimated that self-employed workers in Kerala constituted 37.7% of the total workers, while the share of regular wage/salaried employee was 22.5% and that of casual labour 39.8%.

Employees of enterprises belonging to the unorganised sector have lower job security, poorer chances of upward mobility, and no paid holidays, lower protection against unfair or illegal practices.

Dr Shashi Tharoor, Parliamentarian from Kerala, told The Lede that the unemployment rate in Kerala is high because of the relative lack of opportunities, practically no industry, and service industries existing largely in the tourism and wellness sectors only.

“Educated professionals have fewer options than in most other states,” he said adding that to overcome the crisis, major emphasis on attracting more companies to relocate to Kerala along the lines of my #MoveToTrivandrum initiative focusing on Trivandrum’s Technopark, tax breaks and other incentives to strengthen the IT and knowledge sectors and improving ease of doing business will help.

On Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the government is launching a new single window clearance project for investors linking 16 departments with a portal called K-swift, which will get them clearance from a variety of departments within 30 days, thereby easing the entry of new businesses.

He was inaugurating Ascend 2019, an investment summit in Kochi.

Welcoming the Chief Minister’s move, Cochin Chamber of Commerce President V Venugopal told The Lede that the realisation that there is hardly any production happening in the state and the need to change this is a positive first step.

“Promoting MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) in the state and through them, employment, is a good initiative. The steps taken to simplify procedures to ease the flow of investments is a welcome one. The Chief Minister’s call for a change in attitude towards entrepreneurs is a breath of fresh air and needs to be appreciated,” he added.