Business Standard

Religious minorities see sharper loss of regular wage jobs: PLFS

Since FY19, self-employment has grown across religious groups; share of casual workers up only among Muslims

- SHIVA RAJORA New Delhi, 19 February

Share of people working as regular wage employees has seen a greater decline among religious minority groups such as Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, as compared to the majority Hindu population since FY19, an analysis of the latest annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data shows.

Among these minorities, workers belonging to the Muslim community saw the greatest decline between 2018-19 and 2022-23.

While 22.1 per cent workers belonging to the Muslim community worked as wage employees in 2018-19, the share fell to 15.3 per cent in 2022-23, marking a 6.8 percentage point decline.

Similarly, the population belonging to the Christian community saw a 3.2 percentage point decline, as only 28 per cent of Christian workers had regular jobs in 2022-23, down from 31.2 per cent in 2018-19.

This is followed by the population of the Sikh community as it saw a 2.5 percentage point decline. Only 26 per cent Sikh workers had wage employment in 2022-23, down from 28.5 per cent in 2018-19.

In comparison, deteriorat­ion in the quality of employment is the least for the majority Hindu community. Here, 21.4 per cent workers had regular salaried jobs in 2022-23, down by 2.3 percentage points from 23.7 per cent in 2018-19.

Overall, the share of workers having wage/salaried employment has declined to 20.9 per cent in 2022-23 from 23.8 per cent in 2018-19.

Santosh Mehrotra, visiting professor, University of Bath, said Muslims primarily had to bear the brunt of the fall in regular wage jobs due to Covid and deteriorat­ion of work quality in the post Covid world.

“Wage employment opportunit­ies are higher in urban areas and Muslims have had a higher share in the urban population than in the rural population. And post pandemic, both the manufactur­ing and services sectors, which are primarily in urban areas, struggled to generate quality jobs. Also, the labour force participat­ion rate of Muslims has barely seen any increase over these years, which makes it even more concerning,” he added.

Labour force participat­ion rate (LFPR) for Muslims has only slightly increased to 32.5 per cent in 2022-23 from 32.3 per cent in 2018-19. In comparison, for the Hindus, it has increased to 44.5 per cent from 38.2 per cent during the same period. LFPR denotes the percentage of persons in the labour force — employed, or actively-seeking employment, or available for work — among the population.

This decline in wage employment has resulted in an increase in both selfemploy­ment (comprising unpaid household labour or owning a small enterprise) and casual work among these communitie­s.

While self-employment has seen an increase across all religious groups, the share of casual workers has gone up only in the Muslim community.

About 26.3 per cent Muslim workers worked as casual labourers in 2022-23, up from 25.7 per cent in 2018-19. This is in contrast to other religious groups like Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, which have seen a decline in the share of population working as casual labourers.

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