The unemployment figures for the first quarter of this year are out and there is a slight reason for cheer for a government facing the biggest flak for not generating enough jobs.
The urban unemployment rate fell to 9.3 per cent between January and March this year, the lowest in at least four quarters. It stood at 9.9 per cent in the previous quarter, says a survey by the National Statistical Organisation. Quarterly data prior to the April-June 2018 survey period is not available in the Periodic Labour Force Survey and the January-March quarter's rate is the lowest since then.
The estimates are worked out on what is called current weekly status method. A person is considered as unemployed in a week if he did not work even for 1 hour during that week.
Joblessness among youth aged between 15 and 29 years was at 22.5 per cent during the January-March period this year, down from 23.7 per cent in the previous quarter. This segment accounts for over one third of India's 1.3 billion people.
The Narendra Modi government has been criticised for not regularly releasing comprehensive data on jobs. Figures had shown joblessness at 6.1 per cent in 2017-18, the highest in 45 years.
The labour force participation rate - the percentage of population that supplies labour force for all economic activity - was 36 per cent during the March quarter, the survey showed, potentially reflecting weak economic growth in Asia's third largest economy.
India's economic growth fell to an over four-year low of 5.8% in the January-March period. It fell further to 5 per cent in the following quarter.
The survey also showed that of the total workforce, 37.7 per cent were self-employed, 50 per cent were salaried or regular workers and 12.4 per cent were casual labourers.