India’s unemployment numbers cross 120 million in April
India's unemployment rate is now at a record high of 27.1 percent, according to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE).
The new data shows India's unemployment figures are four times that of the US.
The country has been in lockdown since 25 March to curb COVID-19 infections, causing mass layoffs and heavy job losses.
Unemployment hit 23.5 percent in April, a sharp spike from 8.7 percent in March. This is attributed to the lockdown, which brought most economic activity - except essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies and food supplies - to a standstill.
Large companies across various sectors - media, aviation, retail, hospitality, automobiles - have announced massive layoffs in recent weeks. And experts predict that many small and medium businesses are likely to shut shop altogether.
A closer look at CMIE’s data shows the devastating effect the lockdown has had on India's organized economy.
Of the 122 million who have lost their jobs, 91.3 MN were small traders and laborers. But a fairly significant number of salaried workers - 17.8 million - and self-employed people - 18.2 million - have also lost work.
As of the end of April, Puducherry in South India had the highest unemployment at 75.8 percent, followed by neighboring Tamil Nadu 49.8 percent, Jharkhand 47.1 percent and Bihar 46.6 percent.
Maharashtra’s unemployment rate was pegged at 20.9 percent by the CMIE, while the same for Haryana stood at 43.2 percent, Uttar Pradesh at 21.5 percent and Karnataka at 29.8 percent.
Hilly States had the lowest incidence of unemployment as of April, the think tank said, pointing out that the rate in Himachal Pradesh stood at 2.2 percent, Sikkim at 2.3% and Uttarakhand at 6.5 percent.
The lockdown is slated to end on 17 May but some states have extended it further, with no clear indication as to when the country as a whole might emerge from the lockdown.
Experts are also worried because India had entered the lockdown with already high unemployment levels. At 8.7 percent, the rate was already at a 43-month high, up from just 3.4 percent in July 2017, according to CMIE.