Unemployment was higher in the urban areas than in the rural areas, the report stated.
A yet-to-be-released report that says the country's unemployment rate rose to a 45-year-high in 2017-18 is "not verified" and the "veracity of the data is not known", NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said on Thursday. The clarification came as the government faced opposition attacks over the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)'s periodic labour force survey (PLFS), withheld by the government but accessed by the Business Standard newspaper. The damning report, revealed a day before the government's interim Budget, sets up a huge controversy just ahead of the national election, due by May.
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According to the report, the National Sample Survey Office conducted between July 2017-June 2018 showed the unemployment rate at 6.1 percent, the highest since 1972-73.
Unemployment was higher in the urban areas (7.8 per cent) than in the rural areas (5.3 per cent). The report also says youth unemployment is at "astronomically high" levels of 13 to 27 per cent.
The report says more people are withdrawing from the workforce as the labour force participation rate is lower than in the previous years.
The government fielded its two top plan panel officers, Rajiv Kumar and Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, for damage control as opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, targeted the government.
"You can't be growing at 7.2 per cent and say no jobs are being created. To my mind, the major problem is the lack of quality jobs. The country needs roughly about 7 million jobs," said Amitabh Kant, adding that that demand was being met.
Mr Kant said: "Our own internal analysis shows we are creating 7.8 million jobs. A whole lot of people are exiting low productivity jobs in agriculture. Aspirational people want better paying jobs."
Among the jobs that have been created, he said, are those offered by cab aggregators Ola and Uber.
The job data is significant because this was the first comprehensive assessment of jobs in the country, after the November 2016 demonetisation, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared an overnight ban on the highest-value notes.
The report was not released despite being vetted by the National Statistical Commission in December, allege two non-independent members who quit the data collating body on Tuesday.
One of them is acting chairman PC Mohanan, who confirmed that one of the reasons why he quit was the delay in the release of the NSSO Periodic Labour Force Survey report. The government said: "We have explained to the members that decision to release the report will be ours. We will decide when this should happen."