Over 2 Crore Indians Lost Their Jobs Due to 2nd COVID Wave: CMIE

The income of 97 percent households in the country has been adversely impacted by the pandemic since it began.

3 min read
Unemployment has increased significantly due to the COVID lockdowns.

According to an estimate by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), around 2.27 crore Indians have lost their jobs due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unemployment rate had risen to 12 percent in the last week of May as opposed to 8 percent recorded in April, CMIE Director Mahesh Vyas told PTI, adding that the second surge of the viral infection was primarily responsible for the same.

Vyas said that April and May 2021 witnessed a severe fall in employment with 2.27 crore job losses.

He was quoted as saying, “This is the period of the severe second wave of COVID-19. During these two months, India witnessed lockdowns of varying degrees for different durations in different regions. It was a period of substantial disruption in economic activities which was bound to reflect in employment,” The Times of India reported.


“The labour force shrank by 1.1 million in April 2021 to 424.6 million compared to 425.8 million in March,” Vyas stated.

The unemployment rate had shot up to an unprecedented high of 23.5 percent in May last year, due to the nationwide lockdown in the country.

An unemployment rate of 3-4 percent should be considered as the norm for the Indian economy, the economist suggested.

As the COVID-19 case numbers are now on a decline, states such as Delhi, Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh have announced a few relaxations in their COVID curbs this week. The state-imposed lockdowns are expected to be further eased in the coming weeks.

Vyas suggested that as lockdowns ease, the problem will be ameliorated, but not entirely.

“The lockdowns could have denied people from seeking employment and caused a fall in labour participation. But, the economy also could not provide adequate jobs to those who sought jobs. So, the strain in the labour markets was not entirely because of the partial lockdowns. It was largely because the economy simply could not provide employment to large numbers who sought work.”
Mahesh Vyas, Director of CMIE

Vyas indicated that those who have been laid off due to the lockdowns might find it difficult to find employment immediately as the economy reopens. This is due to the slow replenishment of hiring needs in the formal sector, which may take up to a year to re-materialise, as opposed to the informal sector, where need is quick to reoccur.

According to a country-wide survey conducted by CMIE, 55 percent of those analysed reported a reduction in their income. As opposed to this number, 3 percent of the participants declared a growth in their income. The remaining 42 percent of those surveyed reported no change in their income.

The results of the investigation, which included 1.75 lakh households from all over the nation, signal the emergence of alarming trends in income generation.

The proportion of the working age population (aged 15-59) which is currently in the job market, or the labour participation rate, has plummeted from the pre-pandemic average of 42.5 percent to 40 percent as of now.

The think tank CEO also stated that the income of 97 percent households in the country has been adversely impacted by the pandemic since it began last year.

(With inputs from PTI and The Times of India)

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