High-paid jobs saw salary hike during Covid-19 lockdown, says PLFS

Jobs were lost, person-days in casual labour fell massively, and incomes of the lowest earning among the population were hit the most during the period when the nationwide lockdown of 2020 was in place, the latest data released by the National Statistical Office shows.

Employment fell across all categories: salaried, casual labour and self-employed, but there was a sharp increase in the exodus from these categories to agriculture in July-June 2019-20, compared to July-June 2018-19. The share of workers employed in agriculture increased from 42.5 per cent in 2018-19 to 45.6 per cent in 2019-10. Manufacturing jobs’ share in total fell from 12.1 per cent to 11.6 per cent.

The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for 2019-20 has found that average of those in the regular wage/salaried status actually rose by 5 per cent in the lockdown period from the previous quarter. While the average monthly earning for a regular wage or salaried person in the country for January to March 2020 was Rs 16,750, it went up to Rs 17,600 in the April-June period, when the ever strict nationwide lockdown was in place.

But over the same period, the estimated number of regular wage people fell 20 per cent, from 96.2 million to 77.4 million.

This means that while the lockdown killed formal jobs, a good proportion of the high-paid jobs remained intact, as the average shows a rise. In 2020, daily wages of casual labour fell 2.8 per cent from the March quarter to the June quarter. Monthly earnings of the self employed fell 13.3 per cent in the same period. But the total number of casual labour work days (estimated) fell 28 per cent from pre-Covid period to the lockdown quarter.

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