The 50 Lakh Job Loss Report: Amit Basole on Demonetisation & Data

The unemployment rate in India, which is generally higher for educated people is much higher for educated women.

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“In probability terms, there’s a much greater chance that as an informal worker, I might not have work, if there is an event such as demonetisation that has occurred.”
Amit Basole, Lead Author, State of Working India 2019

Earlier in April, the Centre for Sustainable Employment, of Azim Premji University in Bengaluru released a report that grabbed national headlines. It reported that though no causal link could be established, about 50 lakh men had lost their jobs from 2016-2018, the same period that saw demonetisation and its aftermath.

The first few months of 2019 have been particularly busy for economists and experts on unemployment data as a leaked government report found that the rate of unemployment was at a record low. Then came the government’s defences and explanations citing different parameters of measurement, different data sets, and more.

To get down to brass tacks, The Quint caught up with Amit Basole, lead author of the headline-grabbing report State of Working India 2019 that investigates a few unemployment trends through data and also suggests solutions and alternatives for the government moving forward.


Who Are the 50 Lakh Men Who Lost Jobs?

Basole said, “What we find in the data is that there is a decline in the percentage of men who report having work. When you withdraw a large amount of currency in circulation, it affects the running of informal businesses in terms of buying their inputs, paying their workers, customers who might want to buy from them, all of this gets affected. And that in turn affects the availability of work in that economy.”

“The study doesn’t look carefully at a causal link, what it shows is just a trend. And the trend is consistent with the timing of demonetisation, that’s what we said. So, demonetisation occurs in November 2016, the first CMIE wave after that, the Jan-April 2017 period where you start  seeing the decline and it persists. So the timing is consistent.”
Amit Basole

‘Educated Women Most Affected by Lack of Employment Opportunities.’

“The unemployment rate in India, which is higher for educated people in general, is much higher for educated women than it is for educated men. So, in some states in india, it can be as high as 3 times the general level of unemployment.

If the general rate is 5%, it might be 15, 20, 25% for educated women. So that is actually the group that is most affected by the lack of good employment opportunities,” said Basole.


The Onset of Unemployment Politics

“Factors like rising aspirations and high economic growth, high levels of education and of course a young society in general, this creates a new politics of unemployment because now the educated aspirational youth are not concentrated in big cities or among the more affluent classes.”
Amit Basole

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