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No suitable jobs: India’s 90 million workers have given up looking for work

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According to recent data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt, a private research business in Mumbai, millions of Indians, particularly women, are leaving the labor field totally because they can’t find suitable kinds of jobs.

The recent figures are an awful harbinger for India, which is counting on young workers to drive growth in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The overall labor participation rate fell from 46 percent to 40 percent between 2017 and 2022.


Recent picture Bleaker for women regarding jobs

The picture is considerably bleaker for women. Around 21 million people dropped out of the workforce, leaving only 9% of the working-age population employed or looking for jobs.


According to the CMIE, more than half of the 900 million Indians of legal working age (approximately the population of the United States and Russia combined) do not want to work.

“India is unlikely to capture the reward that its young population has to provide, given the significant percentage of discouraged employees,” said Kunal Kundu, an economist with Societe Generale GSC Pvt in Bengaluru. 

In addition, “India will most certainly remain stuck in the middle class, with the K-shaped growth path exacerbating inequality.”

The issues India has in terms of employee development are well-known. With nearly two-thirds of the population, aged 15 to 64, competition for anything other than menial labor is severe.

Millions of people apply for stable government jobs, yet getting into top engineering schools is basically a crapshoot.


Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on jobs and his call for India to achieve “amrit kaal,” or a golden period of growth, his administration has made only minimal progress in solving the unsolvable demographic equation.

According to a 2020 report by McKinsey Global Institute, India needs to produce at least 90 million additional non-farm jobs by 2030 to keep up with a youth bulge. This would necessitate an annual GDP growth rate of 8% to 8.5 percent.

Shivani Thakur, 25, who recently left a hotel job due to the unpredictable hours, stated, “I’m completely reliant on others for every penny.”

If India fails to put its young people to work, it will fall behind in the race to become a developed country.

Though India has made significant progress in liberalizing its economy, attracting companies such as Apple Inc. and Inc., the country’s reliance ratio will soon begin to rise.

Economists are concerned that the country may miss out on a demographic dividend. In other words, Indians may get older, but they will not become wealthier.

Labor shortages before the outbreak. The economy sputtered in 2016 when the government banned most currency notes in an attempt to combat black money. 

Another problem came with the implementation of a nationwide sales tax about the same period. India has had a difficult time transitioning from an informal to a formal economy.

The reasons for the decline in workforce participation are numerous. Unemployed Indians are frequently students or stay-at-home moms. 

Many rely on rental income, pensions from elderly family members, or government assistance. Others are simply lagging behind in having marketable skill sets in a time of rapid technological development.

For women, the reasons may be related to personal safety or time-consuming domestic responsibilities. Despite accounting for 49% of India’s population, women contribute only 18% of the country’s economic output, less than half the global average.

“Women don’t join the labor sector in large numbers because jobs aren’t always kind to them,” CMIE’s Mahesh Vyas explained. 

In addition, he said, “Men, for example, are willing to change trains to get to work. Women are less likely to agree to such a thing. This is taking place on a massive scale.”

The government has taken steps to address the issue, including plans to raise the minimum marriage age for women to 21 years old. According to recent research from the State Bank of India, this could enhance labor participation by allowing women to pursue higher degrees and careers.

Thakur began working as a mehndi artist after graduating from college, earning around Rs 20,000 ($260) each month applying henna to the hands of guests at a five-star hotel in Agra.

Her parents, however, asked her to leave this year due to her late working hours. They’ve decided to marry her off now. She claims that a life of financial freedom is slipping away.

“In front of my eyes, the future is being ruined,” Thakur added. “I’ve done everything to persuade my folks, but it hasn’t worked.”



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