By Dr. Gyan Pathak
The latest data released by the National Statistical Office has been presented in a way that shows a ‘buoyancy’ in the formal job creations in India in July 2022 compared to a year before, across the three major schemes – Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Employees’ State Insurance, and National Pension Scheme (NPS). However, it has all the elements that mislead and does not provide a clear picture of the ground realities of the volatile job market in the country. Formalization of jobs is too slow to outpace the fast increasing informal jobs sans social security coverage.
The report “Payroll Reporting in India: An Employment Perspective – July, 2022” released recently contains very important information in the beginning and at the end of the document. In the beginning it says, “the numbers of subscribers are from various sources and there are elements of overlap. Therefore, the estimates from various sources are not additive.” At the end of the document it says, “The present report gives different perspectives on the levels of employment in the formal sector and does not measure employment at a holistic level.”
If it is so the very purpose of such documents surely carry a suspicion of mischief that projects only such aspects that can be used to mislead the people of the country. The only saving grace is that the document says, “The Ministry welcomes suggestions for improvement in content, coverage, and presentation.” Of course, the “content, coverage, and presentation” need considerable improvements to attain clarity and therefore the present payroll reporting in the country is not reliable. ‘The buoyancy’
The provisional payroll data shows that net new subscriber addition under the EPFO grew by 13 per cent to 1.82 million in July 2022 compared to 1.61 million one month ago in June. ESIC registered a growth of 0.59 per cent in July at 1.57 million compared to 1.56 million in June. NPS registered a growth by 12.9 per cent at 66,014 new subscribers in July as against 58,425 in June.It may seem impressive but then we must be aware that the level of formality of jobs is still at very low level compared to the workforce participation of around 40 crore in the country.
In July, formal jobs created in July 2022 was 24.5 per cent more at 1.82 million compared to 1.46 million added in July 2021. Such a comparison is misleading since the country was still under the second wave of COVID-19, and due to containment measures many workings of many establishments were disrupted. This years’ high percentage is due to last years’ low base. It indicates that formal job creation is still not picking up despite the GDP has grown by 13.5 per cent in the first quarter of the current financial year.
Similar is the case with net new subscriber addition under ESIC in July this year which was 19.1 pe cent more than the 1.32 million added a year ago. NPS registered an increase of 31.7 per cent as against 50,118 new enrollments last year.
Out of the total 1.82 million net subscribers added during July, about 1.05 million new members have enrolled under the social security coverage of EPF&MP Act, 1952 for the first time. It is still very low level of social security coverage. It is surprising that that about 0.4 million ceased to subscribe during the month while about 1.17 million net subscribers exited from the scheme and then rejoined by transferring their accumulations from previous PF accounts to the current account. It shows great volatility in even the formal job sector, and hence the so called job security is just a notion, not a reliable tool at the ground level. Hire and fire is being practiced by the employers at a very high level putting even the workers on formal jobs on tenterhooks.
Skewed formal job market is also reflected in the ESIC data, which shows that 1.26 million male subscribers were added to the schemes while only 0.30 million female subscribes were added in July 2022. It means the job market is still working against the female workers. Number of existing employees under the scheme were 27 million only.
Total number of existing subscribers under NPS during July 22 was 7.02 million, of which the highest number of subscribers added in was at the state government level at 28,660 followed by addition under the corporate sector at 27,569 and the least were added by the central government at 9,785. Union government and the corporate sectors must therefore increase their performance level compared to the better performance of the state governments.
During the last five years from September 2017 to July 2022, a total of only 57 million new subscribers joined the EPF scheme, 70 million joined ESI, and only 3.7 million joined NPS. Perhaps due to this low level of social security coverage and quality formal job creation, the document has preferred not to measure employment at a holistic level. (IPA Service)