Job Market Appears To Be Looking Up With Three Million Joining EPF

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New Delhi: Job market appears to have started looking up with more than three million workers joining the country's state-run social security fund, Employees Provident Fund (EPF), in six months through February. This will give Prime Minister NarendraModi some ammunition to defend his record on creating jobs ahead of a general election due next year.

A new data series on payrolls released by the EPF for the first time on Wednesday, however, gives an incomplete picture of how many new jobs are being created in the non-farm sector. The provisional data showed 4,72,075 employees were added to the state-run social security fund in February, and 6,04,557 joined in January, bringing the six-month total to 31.1 lakh.

“The data shows there was a good increase in jobs every month in the last six months, which will now help fill the missing link for policy-making,” said SoumyaKantiGhosh, chief economist at the country’s largest lender, the State Bank of India.

As nearly 15 million join the workforce every year, India still has a long way to go before the world’s fastest-growing major economy can cope with the country’s demographic bulge. “Unemployment is a serious issue in India, and we must be worried over the implications,” N.R. Bhanumurthy, an economist at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, a Delhi-based think-tank, said.

Modi won the 2014 election promising to revitalise the economy and create strong jobs growth, but some critics have accused his government of making exaggerated claims over just how well the economy is doing.

India’s growth stuttered after the government’s decision to take high denomination bank notes out of circulation overnight in late 2016 in a bid to make the country less reliant on cash transactions and flush out money that was being kept out the taxman’s sight. The implementation of GST last year also knocked growth, and caused some companies to shed jobs.

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