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Agri sector saw robust job generation in 2019-20 as manufacturing industry tanked; Govt survey

New Delhi, August 14: The agriculture sector remained the best hope for the labour force for sustenance and livelihood during the last two financial years as a staggering 45.6 per cent of the workers took to cultivation during the period owing to the contraction in the manufacturing sector and the Covid pandemic.

According to the Centre’s latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) and analysed by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the reverse migration manifested in the labour force joining in large numbers in agricultural activities.

CMIE termed the trend as “involuntary” because low wage jobs in the agriculture sector in the order of Rs 250-300 per day would have remained unattractive for casual labourers in good times.

The PLFS survey showed 45.6 per cent of the total workforce joining the agriculture sector in 2019-20, up from 42.5 per cent in 2018-19.

This period coincided with the first phase of the Covid pandemic, the outbreak of which pushed the country towards a general lockdown. The closure of almost all sectors triggered a reverse migration. Not only that, it exacerbated the state of welfare of the labour force who, so far, were reeling from contraction in the economy. During 2019-20, the GDP growth rate had dived south to four per cent.

The sectors which saw massive job losses were transportation, logistics, manufacturing and communications.

CMIE estimate suggests that 60 per cent of the employment in the manufacturing sector are in the unorganised sector. With no social security cover or protection from exigencies, workers, particularly from this space are believed to have left in large numbers to native places and the agriculture fields.

The crisis spilled over. Between July 2020 to June 2021, the reverse migration did not slow down as the second wave of the covid pandemic hammered manufacturing and other industries.

While the share of agriculture in total employment jumped to 39.4 per cent from 38 per cent in 2019-20, the share of manufacturing dropped sharply from 9.4 per cent to 7.3 per cent, PFLS data said.





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