Look back at the decade: Unemployment

Outtake from the second decade of the new millemium: India desperately needs to avail jobs for its ever increasing youth population

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 31 December 2019

100 million. That was the number of jobs the country had to create in a decade to meet its employment demands. That was also the toughest challenge of the decade that passed by.

The decade saw jobless growth deepening roots. Every year more and more youth joined the workforce but hardly a fraction of them got the suitable employment. As many official data point out, India is having the worst unemployment rate in over four decades. This will definitely be the biggest challenge of the coming decade as well. Here's how DTE covered the issue in April 2014.

Jobless and unskilled 

An estimated five million graduates are churned out every year by the hundreds of thousands of teaching shops across the country that provide neither a solid education nor any special skills to these young people. Graduates working as peons in offices and postgraduates carrying head loads as construction labour are not exactly new. What is new and unnerving now is the overwhelming numbers of young people looking for employment on account of the changing demographics of the country.

A couple of significant statistics stand out in this new demographic profile. Nearly half the population, 48.6 per cent to be precise, of the total 1.21 billion is below 24 years, according to the 2011 census. What India is experiencing is a pronounced youth bulge with around 232 million people in the 15-24 age bracket, up from 190 million in 2001. The median age is 25 compared with 40 for most of the developed economies. Constituting a fifth of the total population, the 15-24 years cohort is the youngest slab in the working age population (WAP) which includes people between 15 and 59 years. It is the WAP segment that has been exciting discussion at home and abroad because with as much as 62.5 per cent of the population in the working age, there is the possibility of India reaping a huge demographic dividend.

But a caveat is in order here. Not everyone of WAP will be in the job market. According to the Institute of Human Development in Delhi, the overall labour force participation is just 56 per cent of WAP, a low figure compared to nearly 64 per cent for the rest of the world. This is largely because women participation is a dismal 31 per cent, among the lowest in the world and the second lowest in South Asia after Pakistan.

More people aged 15-24 years are likely to continue education, much more than the 26 per cent who do now, according to one analysis, while others think that more women in the same cohort are likely to join the workforce after their numbers dropped to an all-time low in the recent past. Whatever the calculations, India will need to create at least 100 million new jobs in less than a decade. 

Also in the decade 


Today the country faces a new challenge: even the traditionally well-off farming communities are demanding reservations in government jobs. Their demand is an offshoot of deepening agrarian crisis that if ignored can snowball into an explosive situation.


India is one of the worst countries for working women. The OECD Economic Survey of India found the country has the largest difference between employment rates of women and men among OECD nations at 52 percentage points.

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