Covid Second Wave Bleeding Tears: The Fear Of Unemployment In The Coming Days Sets In

Unemployment

On Sunday, India reported 3.92 lakh new cases of COVID-19 with 3,689 people losing their lives in the past 24 hours, as per the data Union Health Ministry.

Amidst the surge of covid-19 cases, Odisha has joined the list of states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab to declare a lockdown in the state from 5-14 May. But, the only state-imposed lockdown can prove to be futile, as India needs stringent measures to handle covid-19. But, on the other hand, people are dying of lack of availability of oxygen, medicines and hunger. The increasing infections are forcing people to either take a sabbatical or leave their existing jobs, whereas during such times also the need for employment has increased.

In all this, the youth is grasping for the air of employment. India’s job market has been blanketed by grey clouds of unemployment that is climbing to almost 10% subsequently curbs and partial lockdowns in several states.

In the past few months, unemployment saw a recovery. The unemployment rate had reached down as compared to the last year’s situation but now it looks to erase the gains and is posing a tough time at least in the short run, new data pointed out.

Salaried employees suffered a major loss in 2020-21 as opposed to the popular belief that they are enjoying their so-called ‘secure jobs’ and earning during the COVID-19 lockdown and in the subsequent years. The situation in the second wave of covid-19 is ready to halt the progress of the nation. 

As per the fresh data published on the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), urban unemployment climbed to 9.53% on 30 April. The percentage of urban unemployment revolved around 9% throughout the week from April 24-May 1. Even the rural unemployment experienced a consistent level of unemployment, revolving around 7%. 

Economists believe that the hardest hit sector is the informal sector and, in the formal space, retail and hospitality.

 In an interview with the Mint, Arup Mitra, a professor of economics at Delhi University said, “When you put a night curfew or weekend restrictions, it’s the informal sector that gets impacted the most as they do sizable business in the evening and on weekends. If the business is low, it’s very obvious that the manpower requirement—let’s say in urban markets and trading centres—will below. The market or shop clusters get impacted, hampering jobs.” 

In an earlier interview to The Indian Wire, Arup Mitra showed concerns over the impact of the pandemic amongst the job-seeking population. He said, “COVID-19 along with the subsequent lockdown has aggravated the ’employment problem’ further as the organised or formal sector has suffered economic losses and the informal sector has also registered huge employment deceleration. But, even before COVID-19 the ’employment problem’ in India had posed a serious concern.” 

 As per the Crisil Ratings, The biggest employers among industries- Manufacturing and construction, are on the verge of experiencing job losses, followed by accommodation and food services, after the lockdowns imposed. The industrial workforce is also vulnerable to job cuts because of the restrictions and high infection rate. 

While manufacturing and construction are expected to be the most vulnerable, Crisil said there will be less impact on utilities like water and electricity. Among services, transport, accommodation and food services, is also estimated to see significant job losses as the demand for such services is witnessing lower demand. 

To curb the unemployability rate, several states have issued advisories against terminating employees or retrenchment. But, how far will it be viable? When the owners will not have funds in their hands to give to employees, why will they keep them on jobs? All of a sudden, taking cognizance over employment bears no fruit as employees of urban set-ups are either hospitalized or taking care of their loved ones. The failing policy to curb the pandemic and taking no lessons from the unemployability in 2020, has again stood India at the same crossroads. It is again time to think for the Indians to choose between jobs and fighting the virus. 

Unemployability in the month of May-June last year touched to double digits of 20 per cent. This time again, with the igniting fires on crematoriums, crying patients outside hospitals and the manufacturing sectors shutting their work has set in the fear of unemployability in the Indians.