The National Statistical Office has said that the unemployment rate for 2017-’18, which stood at a 45-year-high of 6.1%, is not comparable with previous similar surveys, Mint reported on Friday.

Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava said it would be unfair to compare the unemployment rate with that of past years. “It is a new design, new metric,” The Economic Times quoted Srivastava as saying. “We can’t do a retrospective analysis based on the previous methodology – there was no pressure.”

Srivastava also said education was the criteria used to measure unemployment in the present survey. “Forty-five-year high or low is your interpretation,” he said. “We have not delayed the report, we have only brought in new information.”

The report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office showed the unemployment rate in the country in 2017-’18 was at 5.3% in rural areas and 7.8% in urban areas. The report showed that the overall unemployment rate was 6.1%, confirming the data leaked in the media in January.

The present sample emphasised on the level of education in a household where at least one person should have studied up to secondary level. Earlier employment surveys were based on monthly per capita expenditure.

“The rationale for this decision was based on the fact that the education levels in the economy have risen due to various policy interventions like the Right to Education Act etc and it would be important to assess the level of employment and unemployment using this as a stratification basis,” the National Statistical Office said in a statement, according to Mint. “This has been incorporated in the sampling design of PLFS, where out of eight households selected in the sample, 75% had at least one member with 10th standard or above.”

The National Statistical Office said the change in criteria from monthly per capita expenditure to education has implications on the comparability. “In view of this, the PLFS needs to be seen as a new series for measuring employment and unemployment on an annual basis.”