The government Thursday admitted in the Rajya Sabha that there has been a data leak of unemployment figures and said efforts were being made to ascertain who was behind it.
Replying to queries during Question Hour, Minister of State for Planning and Statistics Rao Inderjit Singh termed the issue as "serious" and said data pertaining to unemployment figures was leaked ahead of its announcement in May this year.
He also informed members that the government has changed the methodology for ascertaining unemployment rates as a periodic survey is now being held every year based on quarterly data, against the five-year surveys earlier.
"It is right that there was a data leak. Our survey result was to come out on May 30, 2019, but before that the data was leaked. We have taken this very seriously. Maybe someone has an agenda behind it and the data was leaked. We are making efforts to ascertain who was behind the leak," the minister told members.
He said employment and unemployment rate surveys used to be held once in five years. "This government deemed it fit to carry out a periodic survey every year," he said.
Mr Singh said some changes were also made in the methodology and technology was used and that is why there is a difference in previous surveys done by NSSO.
He said the 2.2 unemployment rate would have been same as brought out by the NSSO earlier if it was made out for five years, but this has increased both in rural and urban areas as the methodology has changed.
"The new model for labour employment and unemployment is different from early methods and you cannot compare apples with oranges.
"The new method now is a yearly method taking into account quarterly surveys. The only comparability that can happen is when the next year data comes. At present, it was compared to 6.1 per cent and the yearly data cannot be compared with the 5-year figure," he said.
The minister said the government takes unemployment very "very seriously" and to alleviate the unemployment scenario, the government has taken a number of steps.
Listing out some examples, he said the prime minister's employment generation programme itself has catered to employment of 14.3 lakh till November 30, 2018, the Deen Dayal Gramin Kaushal Yojna has helped 4.73 lakh people get jobs, MNREGA over past 3.5 to 4 has helped 972.99 person employment days.
"Taking into account the seriousness of the matter, the government has set up a cabinet committee on employment and skill development to ensure that more people get jobs," he said.
In his written reply, the minister said, this Ministry has launched a new regular Employment-Unemployment survey, namely, Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) during 2017-18 with certain changes in survey methodology, data collection mechanism and sampling design vis--vis the earlier quinquennial (once in every five years) Employment and Unemployment surveys of NSSO.
These differences in methodology put certain limitations in respect of comparability of results of PLFS with results of the earlier quinquennial surveys on Employment-Unemployment conducted by NSSO, he said.
"Based on the first estimates, available from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), released on 31st May 2019, unemployment rate in usual status is 6.1 percent," he said.