The workers hit the hardest 

News: Recently, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) released the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey. According to the survey, employment in India fell from 408.9 million in 2019-20 to 387.2 million in 2020-21 and then recovered to 401.8 million in 2021-22. 

General trends of employment in India 

Firstly, employment was declining at the rate of about 0.31% per annum before the pandemic. This led to loss of 7 million (1.7%) jobs in the pre-pandemic year of 2019-20.  

Second, the declining trend continued during the pandemic. A lot of job were lost. However, most of the jobs lost during lockdowns came back when the restrictions on mobility are lifted. However, despite of recovery, 4.5 million jobs remained lost in the long-term due to the shock of the pandemic. 

Therefore, in 2021-22, the unemployed who were actively seeking work but were unable to find any were estimated at 33 million. This was higher than the pre-pandemic levels. 

What is the category-wise employment trends in India since the pandemic? 


The women suffered job losses disproportionately during economic shocks and the pandemic. For example, they accounted for less than 11% of all jobs in 2019-20, but nearly 52% of the 7 million job loser were women. It was more predominant in Urban India.  

The small traders/vendors and daily wage workers 

They could enter and exit the labour markets with ease during a crisis. For example, during the first lockdown, 79 million small traders and daily wage labourers lost employment. But most of them were back to work after the end of the first lockdown.  


The pandemic has reversed a trend of rising entrepreneurs. There was a fall of about 1% in sharp contrast to the 13% per annum growth in entrepreneurs before the pandemic. 

Salaried employees Category 

They witnessed the biggest relative fall in employment (6.8%). They cannot go back to work unlike daily wage labourers, small traders and entrepreneurs. Except for a few high-skill jobs, finding a new salaried job is difficult.  

What were the challenges for women wrt work from home (WFH) situation? 

Working from home with the rest of the family at home was not easy for women. It increased their hardship.  

The WFH does not help small traders/vendors and daily wage labourers who are required to go out for work for a living. Their earnings depend upon their ability to reach markets and trade their goods or services for daily earnings. In fact, they account for the largest share of employment in India. 

What are going to be the challenges? 

The 7 million jobs lost over the two years since the COVID-19 outbreak is unevenly distributed. It would be difficult to recover all of them anytime soon. 

Employing women and providing salaried jobs are the two big challenges that will be difficult to tackle soon.  

In addition to generating jobs for those who have lost jobs during the pandemic, more job creations will be needed to employ those people who will enter the labour force in the coming year. 

Future outlook

It is expected that entrepreneurship can rise again principally because of a lack of salaried jobs. 

If the Indian economy expands by about 7.5% in 2022-23, 6 million jobs can come back.  However, despite this, more jobs need to be created to employ new entrants in the working age population and the labour force. 

Source: The post is based on an article “The workers hit the hardest ” published in The Hindu on 05th May 2022. 

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