‘Inconsistency in data’: Why India has objected to ILO report that claims 83% unemployed are youth

India has expressed its concerns to the International Labour Organization (ILO) regarding the recent report on employment, titled “India Employment Report 2024.” The government has questioned the inconsistencies in the data sets used and the misinterpretation of data on youth employment. Additionally, the report has been criticized for ignoring international mobility and the data on gig and platform workers.
According to sources quoted by ET, Sumita Dawra, the labour and employment secretary, reached out to senior ILO officials to convey the government’s displeasure over the report, which was prepared by the Institute for Human Development in collaboration with a multilateral organization. India pointed out that despite being part of a country programme, the ILO failed to collaborate with the government and did not seek its views before making the report public.
The report, which was released on March 26, claimed that India’s youth accounted for nearly 83% of the unemployed workforce. This finding created a furore against the Narendra Modi government, which is currently seeking a third successive term in the midst of the general election.

India objects to ILO report

India objects to ILO report

The labour and employment ministry informed the ILO that the two data sets used in the report, the Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS) and the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), were not comparable due to differences in sampling methods.
The EUS was a random survey conducted until 2011-12, while the PLFS, introduced in 2017-18, is a panel survey method that visits the same households every year. The ministry also argued that the data cannot be extrapolated for the period between 2012 and 2017 when no survey was conducted.
Furthermore, the ministry pointed out that the report failed to capture the international migration trends and the surge in gig and platform workers, both of which constitute a significant portion of India’s employed workforce and would have impacted the youth employment numbers.
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Countering the youth unemployment data presented in the report, the ministry stated that the youth (aged 15-29 years) unemployment rate in 2022 was just 5%, down from 7% in 2019. In comparison, the unemployment rate for adults (aged 30-59 years) was 1% in both 2022 and 2019.
The ministry also highlighted that 35% of India’s youth are students, while 22% are involved in domestic duties and cannot be classified as ‘unemployed’ since many of them are engaged in fractional employment, which is not accounted for in the report. The government emphasized that a large proportion of India’s population is of working age (15-59 years) and is expected to remain in this potential demographic dividend zone for at least another decade.

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