Around 1.2 crore jobs were added in the country's formal sector in the last 10 months, says a report released by the government in the backdrop of an ongoing tussle with the opposition over job creation. The report by the Ministry of Statistics relies on the figures of enrollment for state insurance. Between September 2017 and June 2018, this figure, the report said, was close to 1.2 crore.
According to this figure, an average of 12 lakh jobs are being created a month. This exceeds the World Bank estimates on how many new people are entering the job market every month - over 10 lakh.
There have been questions if these new additions are equivalent to the number of jobs created, given the rules of enrollment.
For example, it is compulsory for establishments with more than 10 workers to enroll their employees for state insurance. This would mean that when an establishment with 9 employees hires one more person, all 10 must be enrolled for insurance.
So while the insurance scheme will show 10 fresh enrollments, on the ground, only one job is created.
Unlike provident fund data, the numbers released by the Employees State Insurance Corporation do not reflect how many establishments are enrolling for the first time.
In addition, what the report does not reflect is that in the same period, 1.7 crore people stopped paying for insurance. This information is included in the data released by the Employees State Insurance Corporation.
The insurance corporation's data carries a disclaimer that people might stop payments because they cross the wage ceiling of Rs. 21,000, retire, resign or die. But if new enrollments are necessarily counted as new jobs, it raises the question if cancelled registrations should be counted as lost jobs.
Payroll figures -- on new registrations for insurance, pension and provident funds - were first released by the government this April, but they remain shaky.
Last week, provident fund data showing new enrollments for 9 months was revised down by 12% -- which meant 6 lakh jobs fewer than estimated earlier. Insurance data is provisional as well.
A quarterly Labour Bureau survey has been temporarily suspended and may be permanently cancelled, and another annual survey on employment has been cancelled as well, according to the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
While the government has launched the field work for two new employment surveys, they are unlikely to be ready with their results before the 2019 elections, during which the opposition's accusations of "jobless growth" under the Narendra Modi government are sure to play a central part.