Jobs: Formal sector jobs plummeted almost 44% in March: Government payroll data

Jobs: Formal sector jobs plummeted almost 44% in March: Government payroll data

New jobs enrollments took a severe dent in March, 2020, the month India declared a nationwide lockdown to counter Covid-19 outbreak.

Government’s payroll data released on Friday shows formal sector jobs under the Employees Provident Fund Organisation plummeted almost 44% in March against February while the jobs added in the Employee State Insurance Corporation dipped by 30.6% in March vis-a-vis February, making it the worst month for formal job creation in 2019-20.

The formal sector payroll additions may worsen in April and May when the full impact of Covid-19 was felt and businesses were hit hard by the lockdown, resulting in massive job losses. Besides, the payroll data of recent months may change slightly due to delays in data collection.

As per payroll data released by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation on Friday, the net new enrollments with retirement fund body EPFO dipped to 5.72 lakh in March 2020 from 10.21 lakh in the previous month.

EPFO said the payroll data is provisional as updation of employees’ records is a continuous process and gets updated in subsequent months. “The government announced lockdown on March 24, 2020. Accordingly ECR (PF returns) filing date for March month was extended to May 15, 2020,” EPFO said.

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy had said unemployment in India was at 43-month high in March 2020 at 8.7%. However, with the commencement of the lockdown since March 25, the unemployment rates went up in double-digits on weekly basis and touched 23% for week ended April 5 vs the 6-8% range pre-COVID-19.

However, during 2019-20, the number of net new EPFO subscribers rose to 78.58 lakh compared to 61.12 lakh recorded by Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) during 2018-19 and 15.52 lakh during September 2017-March 2018. The data also showed that during September 2017-March 2020 period, the number of net new EPFO subscribers was around 1.55 crore.

Meanwhile, payroll data of ESIC shows around 8.21 lakh new members joined the ESIC-run social security scheme in March 2020 as against 11.83 lakh in the previous month while the gross enrolments of new subscribers with ESIC were 1.49 crore during 2018-19. During the period September 2017 to March 2020, around 3.83 crore new subscribers joined the ESIC scheme.

However, new subscribers under the National Pension Scheme across central government, state government and private sector employees were up by 46.4% in March to 87,877 as against 60,002 additions in February.

The report is based on the payroll data of new subscribers of various social security schemes run by ESIC, retirement fund body EPFO and pension fund regulator PFRDA. It has been releasing such data of these bodies since April 2018, covering the period starting from September 2017.

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