India’s unemployment rate reached a four-month high in December, data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy showed on Monday.

The monthly unemployment rate was 7.91%, up from 7% in November. The previous high was in August when the rate had touched 8.32%.

India’s urban unemployment rate for December was 9.3%, and for the rural area it was 7.28%, according to the Mumbai-based think tank.

Haryana reported the highest unemployment rate for the month at 34.1%, followed by Rajasthan at 24.1%, Jharkhand at 17.3%, Bihar at 16% and Jammu and Kashmir at 15%.

The lowest unemployment rate was found in Karnataka at 1.4%, followed by Gujarat and Odisha at 1.6%, Chhattisgarh at 2.1% and Telangana at 2.2%.

Economic activity and consumer sentiment have been hit in the country amid the rise in cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease that has resulted in states imposing restrictions, reported Reuters.

Analysts believe that the Omicron variant could reverse India’s economic recovery, according to the news agency. India’s Gross Domestic Product in the first quarter (April-June) of the financial year 2021-’22 had grown by 20.1%, showed government data released in August.

The number had marked the fastest rate of growth in India in a quarter. However, it came as an effect of a low base of an unprecedented contraction of 24.4% in the economy in the first quarter of the financial year 2020-’21. Economic data like GDP growth rate are calculated on a year-on-year basis. So, a low growth rate in the previous year leads to a low base for the current year’s numbers.

In August 2021, when the unemployment rate had touched 8.32%, more than 15 lakh people in the country had lost their jobs in both formal and informal sectors.

The number of employed individuals had fallen from approximately 40 crore in July to 39.7 crore in August, the organisation had said. Notably, 13 lakh job losses were from rural India alone.

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