The many questions arising from QES data

Synopsis: The first quarter data of QES talks about different employment statistics 


Recently, the Labour Bureau has released the results of the All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey (QES) for the first quarter of 2021 (April to June). The Sixth Economic Census serves as the basis of the QES survey.

The survey covers establishments employing 10 or more workers in the organised segment in nine sectors. These sectors account for 85% of the total employment in establishments employing 10 or more workers as per the Sixth Economic Census (EC).

What are the key findings of this QES?

Nearly 75% of the estimated establishments employing less than 40 workers  

87.5% of the estimated workers were regular workers and just about 2.1% (12.5% in construction) were casual workers. 

Excluding health and financial services, around 24-35% of the establishments were operational from March 25 to June 30, 2020.

66-86% of estimated employees received full wages including in the construction, trade and hospitality industries. 

The report concedes a decline in the share of female workers from 31% in the Sixth EC to 29% in FQ2021.

What can be inferred from the QES Data?

The overall growth rate is incongruent with macroeconomic factors and other labour market portrayals. 

The QES provides very broad employment figures — “3 crores and 8 lakhs approximately” for FQ-2021. But due to low employment demand, cost-minimising manufacturers the statistics in QES are arguable.

What more could have been done for the report? 

At any rate, the F12021 QES must be considered as a starting point of the new data set rather than as a continuum of the Sixth EC as the Seventh EC would enable sensible comparisons. 

Like the Sixth EC, it could have collected data on social aspects like caste and religion as the pandemic would have had differential impacts on the social statuses of workers. 

Instead of five segmented employment surveys (QEP’s), the Labour Bureau can put in place a high-frequency labour market information database like most advanced economies. 

Source: This post is based on the article “The many questions arising from QES data” published in “The Hindu” on 11th October 2021.  

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