Nearly 50 lakh salaried persons lost their jobs in July, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy has said. This was the impact of a continuing partial lockdown imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic. India began its “Unlock” procedure on June 1, to restart all economic activities.

The number of jobs lost in July paled in comparison with April, when 1.77 crore salaried individuals fell out of work. However, the job loss in July was higher than the 10 lakh jobs lost in May. In June, salaried persons actually gained 39 lakh jobs, however, the net result of the last four months is that 1.89 crore salaried individuals are out of work.

“While salaried jobs are not lost easily, once lost they are also far more difficult to retrieve,” the report said. “Therefore, their ballooning numbers are a source of worry.”

However, since only 21% of all employment in India is in the form of a salaried job, the unemployment here is only 15% of the total loss of jobs in April, CMIE said. An estimated 12.15 crore jobs were forfeited during April, the first month of the lockdown. This loss narrowed down to 10.03 crore in May and then to 2.99 crore in June. July saw a further reduction to 1.1 crore jobs lost.

“While in April, 30% of the employed persons had lost their employment, by July less than 3% were bereft of their source of livelihood,” CMIE said. “The recovery in jobs reflects, to a great extent, an unlocking of the economy from the draconian cessation of practically all economic activities save a few in late March and through most of April. Perhaps, it also reflects the desperation of Indians to get back to some employment after a rather prolonged involuntary break.”

Though the recovery of jobs in the informal sector is better than that in the salaried sector, hawkers and daily wage labourers have been hit badly. Most states have still not allowed hawkers and street vendors to resume operations. Of the 12.15 crore jobs forfeited in April, 9.12 crore were those of hawkers and daily wage labourers. This category was 32% of the total employment in April, but 75% of the jobs lost were from this category.

The CMIE also said that of the 9.12 crore such jobs lost in April, 1.44 crore came back in May, 4.45 crore in June and 2.55 crore in July.

Crores of entrepreneurs out of work

An estimated 7.8 crore entrepreneurs also declared themselves unemployed from April to July. “These include businessmen who own fixed assets and hire people for business purposes; qualified self-employed professionals like practicing doctors, lawyers or accountants; and other self-employed entrepreneurs like taxi operators,” the organisation said. “They account for 19% of total employment.”

Increase in farm employment

There was also an “extraordinary rush” into farming, CMIE said. As many as 11.13 crore people had in 2019-’20 declared their occupation to be farming. This rose to 11.7 crore each in March and April, 11.85 crore in June, and 13 crore in July. “There is never any loss of employment in farming,” it said. “People just migrate out of farming, mostly voluntarily, in search for better paying employment. But, people who can, do migrate into farming when they lose non-farming jobs.” Thus, the lockdown had practically no effect on farming activities in April.

The number of coronavirus cases in India rose by 55,079 to 27,02,742 on Tuesday, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The toll rose to 51,797 after 826 more deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. As many as 19,77,779 people in India have recovered from the coronavirus so far.

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