Yet another day and yet another study has painted a bleak picture of the job scenario in India on 31 October. An academic paper written by economists Santosh Mehrotra and Jajati K Parida has concluded that the total employment in India declined by 9 million between 2011-12 and 2017-18.The paper notes that “this happened for the first time in India’s history”.The reason this study assumes significance is because it is in stark contrast to two other studies conducted using the same data and analysing decline in total employment over the same time period. One is commissioned by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and the other conducted by a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professor, reported The Indian Express.More strikingly, the paper notes, “this happened for the first time in India’s history”.HOW ARE THE THREE STUDIES DIFFERENT?To put things into perspective, there are now three studies on the same subject and all of them are based on the same underlying data - that of, the National Sample Survey Organisation’s Employment-Unemployment Surveys for 2004-05 and 2011-12, and PLFS 2017-18.But, here's how the numbers put out by the three differ:Study 1: Laveesh Bhandari and Amaresh DubeyThis study, commissioned by the EAC-PM is the most optimistic among the three in its readings. The duo suggests that total employment went up from 433 million in 2011-12 to 457 million in 2017-18, signalling a spike of 24 million jobs.Study 2: Santosh Mehrotra and Jajati K ParidaThe study published by the Centre of Sustainable Employment at the Azim Premji University shows a decline of 9 million jobs in the same period - from 474 million in 2011-12 to 465 million in 2017-18.Study 3: HimanshuHimanshu, a professor at the JNU, also reported a decline in total employment but his observations suggest an even sharper fall of 15.5 million in the number of jobs - from 472.5 million in 2011-12 to 457 million in 2017-18.His study however, has not yet been published as an academic paper.WHY THE DIFFERENCE IN NUMBERS?The Indian Express report lists two reasons as to why the difference in numbers might have emerged despite all the three studies basing their observations on the same data set.Bhandari and Dubey used “principal status” of employment while leaving out the “subsidiary status”.Reason 1: Total Population EstimateOne of the reported reasons is the difference in the total population estimate used by the three studies, according to The Indian Express.While Bhandari and Dubey use 1.36 billion as India’s population for 2017-18, Mehrotra and Parida peg the figure at 1.35 billion.Himanshu, on the other hand considers the number as 1.31 billion.Reason 2: ‘Principal Status’ v ‘Subsidiary Status’The second difference lies in the type of employment taken into consideration. The EAC-PM commissioned study, conducted by Bhandari and Dubey used “principal status” of employment while leaving out the “subsidiary status”.This means that while ‘principal status’ checks if a person was employed for more than 182 days in the 365 days preceding the survey while the ‘subsidiary status’ checks if a person was employed for at least 30 days in the past year.(With inputs from The Indian Express) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.