Unemployment in the country stood at 6.1% of the total labour force in 2017-’18, the highest in 45 years, according to a report released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on Friday. This confirms the data leaked in the media in January after the government was accused of covering up the report.

The data showed that 7.8% of all employable youth in urban areas were jobless, while the figure was 5.3% in rural areas. Joblessness among men stood at 6.2%, while it was 5.7% in the case of women.

The data was published in the annual report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey for 2017-’18 conducted by the National Sample Survey Office.

According to the report, the unemployment rate among men in rural areas between the ages 15 and 29 years was 17.4% and 13.6% for women in the same age group. The unemployment rate among the urban male youth was 18.7% in 2017-’18, while the unemployment rate for female youth was 27.2%.

The survey is the first on employment by a government agency since demonetisation. The Periodic Labour Force Survey is also the first annual household survey of the National Sample Survey Office. Its data was collected between July 2017 and June 2018.

A report in the Business Standard on January 31 had claimed that a study allegedly kept buried by the government found unemployment at a 45-year-high of 6.1% in 2017-’18 – the first full year after demonetisation. Opposition leaders had used it as an opportunity to attack the government for demonetisation and allegedly covering up the report, while experts in the field, such as economist Kaushik Basu, had expressed concern about the figures. Two members of the National Statistical Commission resigned after the government refused to release the data.