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Measurement of unemployment

The NSSO used the following three concepts for measuring unemployment.
  • Usual status: This measure estimates the number of persons who may be said to be chronically unemployed. This measure generally gives the lowest estimate of unemployment, especially for a poor economy, because only a few can afford to remain without work for a long period.
  • Current Weekly Status (CWS): Here, the data is collected for one week. According to this estimate, a person is said to be employed for the week even if he is employed only for a day during that week.
  • Current Daily Status (CDS): The data is collected for a day. It counts every half day’s activity status of the respondent over the week. For calculating the rate of unemployed person-days, the aggregated count of unemployed days during the reference weeks constitutes the numerator and the aggregated estimate of the total number of labour days constitutes the denominator.)- Standard terms
The unemployment rates, in India, have decreased and then risen. During 2009- 10 was the latest round of NSSO conducted. However, since labour forces increased at a much faster rate than the increase in work force unemployment on US basis was higher at 2.0% of the labour force in 2009-10.
The following table shows that the labour force participation rate, work force participation rate and persons unemployed in 2009-10 in India.


Work force
Labour force
Unemp / Labour force X 100
Usual Status
2 %
Weekly status
3.6 %
Daily status
6.6 %
  • According to usual status, 40% of the population belongs to labour force
  • 98% of labour force was employed according to usual status
  • The proportion of male in the work force is more than female in both rural and urban areas
  • Work force is least according to CDS basis
  • Unemployment was 3.6 % according to Weekly status basis, 6.6% according to Daily basis and 2% according to usual status basis
  • In rural areas, female unemployment is lower than male unemployment rate
  • In Urban areas, female unemployment is higher than male unemployment rate
The Approach paper to the Mid-Term Appraisal (MTA) of the 10th plan has repeated that employment growth should exceed growth of labour force to reduce the backlog of unemployment. Strategies in the MTA include:
  • Emphasis to promote public investment in rural areas for absorbing the labour force
  • Identification of reforms in the financial sector to achieve investment targets in small and medium enterprises (SME)
  • Huge employment in sectors like construction majorly for the unskilled and semi- skilled. Necessary support to service sectors to fulfil their growth and employment potentials
  • Greater focus on agro-processing and rural services
  • Approach paper to the 11th plan targets generation of employment in services and manufacturing, particularly labour intensive sectors such as food processing, textiles ,etc. and in services such as tourism and construction
  • Educated youth are expected to join the labour force in increasing numbers during the 12th FYP. Hence greater emphasis should be given to create job opportunities in manufacturing sector, agro processing, supply chains, rural infrastructure and services.

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