It’s now official: Joblessness rises with education level
New Delhi: Only 2.1% of illiterate urban men were unemployed in 2017-18, but 9.2% of men with at least secondary education didn’t have a job. The gap was wider among urban women—0.8% of those uneducated were jobless while 20% women with secondary or higher education were unemployed.
The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) on Friday, shows the unemployment rate (% of labour force without a job) rising by up to 4 times between urban women who have only middle- school education and those educated up to secondary-school or more (see table). Unemployment in rural areas shows a similar pattern, though the degree of skewness is less.
The unemployment rate didn’t rise only with education level, it has also risen over time. The NSO’s release also provides unemployment data for 2004- 05, 2009-10 and 2011-12, adding a caution that past data should not be compared to 2017-18 figures because of several methodological changes introduced in the latest round of the survey.
Even if exact figures are not to be compared across the four years, the broad trend across time is of rise in joblessness with level of education. “It’s not a surprise. We have known of the rising phenomenon of educated unemployment for some time. It’s just an official confirmation,” Pronab Sen, former chief statistician of India, said.
Mahesh Vyas, CEO of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, says, “A generation ago, it was inconceivable to get a job in the organised sectors without a graduation degree. Today, the minimum education required to get a job in the organised sectors is much lower and is dropping.” CMIE has been conducting monthly job surveys since a few years.
The PLFS report has defined educated people as those who have attained an educational level of secondary and above. The study among the educated is restricted to people of the age of 15 years and above. Some experts believe 15 may be too young an age to check for employment status, especially in urban areas. “It is possible that the unemployment rate should be higher in younger age brackets as a typical educated urban youth may not even start working before 23 to 24 years—until he or she completes postgraduation,” says Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic adviser at State Bank of India. For the survey, people aged between 15 and 29 years were considered as youths.