Coronavirus impact: Unemployment rate in Delhi rose 17% in eight months as women bore severe brunt

Finally, some surge sectors protected employment—essential services such as grocery, banks, ATMs, gas stations and over-the-counter drugs.

Coronavirus impact on employment: An employment survey in Delhi, conducted by the state government between September and November last year, found the severe issues that people faced related to their employment during the coronavirus pandemic due to the lockdown. According to a report in IE, there was a steep increase in the national capital’s unemployment rate, going from 11.1% in January-February 2020, to 28.5% by the time October-November came about last year. Delhi also saw a major decline in the women’s participation in the workforce, including graduates and postgraduates in large numbers. The survey looked at 44,226 people, with 32,052 of them being above the age of 14 years.

The survey found that within a span of eight months, the unemployment rate in Delhi rose 17.4%. This happened at a time when the country, in order to deal with the pandemic, had to enforce several lockdown measures and then unlock in a phased manner, leading to a negative impact on the economy.

Largely, Delhi’s unemployment rate remained around 10% or 11%, as seen in the pre-corona phase. While no dedicated survey had been conducted by the state government before this, numerous other surveys have provided some data in this regard, including those by the National Statistical Commission (NSC). Between July 2018 and July 2019, the unemployment rate in the national capital was 10.4%, as per the second periodic labour force survey.

Another severe issue that the survey has brought to light is the steep reduction in women’s participation in the workforce. The unemployment rate among women, as per the survey, went from 25.6% to 54.7%, showing a rise of nearly 30%. However, another cause of concern in this regard is that 83.1% of the women respondents of the survey were out of the workforce altogether, while this figure remained 31.6% for men. This means that 83% of the women surveyed are not even actively seeking work anymore, likely due to domestic duties that they are expected to fulfil. Of these 83.1% women who are unemployed as well as unavailable for work, 23.8% have had education up till Class 10, 27.6% till Class 12, while 16.6% are graduates. The survey report, prepared together by the Centre for Market Research and Social Development and the Delhi Directorate of Economics and Statistics, has suggested that a deeper study be carried out into this issue.

The sectors which saw steep declines in employment are specialised construction activity, with a decline of 43%, food and beverage service activities at 31% and education sector at 30%, among others.

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