Political war breaks out over ‘leaked’ job data

Political war breaks out over ‘leaked’ job data

Political war breaks out over ‘leaked’ job data

A yet-to-be-released report that says the country's unemployment rate rose to a 45-year-high in 2017-18 is "not verified" and the "veracity of the data is not known", NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said today.

Two non-official members of the National Statistical Commission (NSC), including the acting chairman of the apex statistical body P.C. Mohanan, resigned on Tuesday, citing, as one of the reasons, the government's failure to release the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report that they had vetted in December.

The damning report, revealed a day before the government's interim Budget, sets up a huge controversy just ahead of the national election, due by May.

Meanwhile, the Opposition has slammed the government after the unemployment figures surfaced.

The rate of joblessness among rural males in the age group 15-29 jumped more than three times to 17.4 per cent in 2017-18 compared to 5 per cent in 2011-12, while the unemployment rate of rural females in the same age bracket stood at 13.6 per cent compared to 4.8 per cent during the same time period. "The latest National Sample Survey Organisation's (NSSO) data that has been withheld by the Modi government has shown that unemployment in India post-demonetisation has reached a four-decade high", the CPI (M) Polit Bureau said in a statement.

"Even if the government was still processing quarterly estimates for urban areas, it would have the data from July 2017-June 2018".

The Niti panel justifying its action further said that 1-12% nominal economic growth can't happen if employment didn't grow. "Only a man who hasn't ever held a proper job and is totally jobless can peddle such #FakeNews!" it said.

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"You can not be growing at 7.2% and saying that there are no jobs being created in the economy", he said.

Mr Kumar also said it was incorrect to compare the PLFS data with earlier reports of the NSSO as their methodologies are different.

The report also provides the first numbers since Modi's decision in November 2016 to withdraw most of the country's banknotes from circulation overnight.

After the chaotic launch of a national sales tax in July 2017, hundreds of thousands have lost jobs in small businesses.

The NSSO findings reportedly said that unemployment was last this high in 1972-73.

The gloomy jobs data could be awkward for Modi's Hindu nationalist government to explain with a general election looming and opinion polls already showing the governing Bharatiya Janata Party unlikely to keep its parliamentary majority. The results of the job survey, as reported by the Business Standard, is in sync with another survey done by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, which stated that 11 million Indians lost their jobs in 2018, with rural India taking the worst hit reporting 84% of the job losses.

"It's a very, very serious issue, and that is the why the government didn't want this data to come out in the public domain", said former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha.

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