“In addition to rising open unemployment among the higher educated, the less educated (and likely informal) workers have also seen job losses and reduced work opportunities since 2016,” said economist and lead author of the report, Amit Basole, titled the “State of Working India 2019”.
Far-right President Narendra Modi has faced criticism for not doing enough to create jobs for India’s burgeoning youth population, despite official annual economic growth of about 7 percent for the past five years. The government’s “Make-in-India” project, whose aim was to lift the share of domestic manufacturing from 17 percent of GDP to about 25 percent and create jobs for an estimated 1.2 million youth entering the market, failed to take off.
"I invested 4 years of life in becoming an engineer but the last one year has been just wasted in looking for jobs. There are so many engineers at every job interview," Ashwani Khabale, a 21-year-old Bachelor of Technology, who has been unemployed for a year said.
Unemployment, in general, has risen steadily post 2011. An official survey, withheld by the government and published in January 2019, showed the rate rose to a 45-year high during 2017-2018. Rising working costs due to the national tax implementation and demonetization of the economy have been pointed to as the main culprits for the loss of jobs.
The assessment by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) conducted between July 2017-June 2018 showed the unemployment rate stood at 6.1 percent, the highest since 1972-73, the Standard newspaper reported.
According to the university report, young men in the 20-24 age range, have been hit the hardest by the record high unemployment rates. The country has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35.
“There is an urgent need to craft policy, adequately supported by the budgetary resources, to promote robust employment generation,” the report reads, adding that the government has enough fiscal room to initiate such programs. The research suggested the next government should consider an urban employment guarantee scheme to create jobs, build infrastructure and provide services.
This study comes as Indians are voting in month-long general elections, which is due to end on May 19, to decide on their next Prime Minister, with Modi seeking reelection.