Employment in 2020: Monthly changes by gender, sector and occupation

17 January 2021 | Economy, Employment, Gender, Jobs

Ashwini Deshpande

Ashwini Deshpande

Professor of Economics, Ashoka University


CEDA-CMIE Special Bulletin No.1: January 2021

As CMIE figures show, the post-lockdown recovery in employment was short-lived. In December 2020, the unemployment rate was 9.1 percent, the highest since the national lockdown in April, 2020. Every month since April, 2020, employment has been lower than the corresponding month in 2018 and 2019, according to CMIE data.

In this bulletin, we show how the monthly change in total employment since the Covid-19 pandemic began varies by rural-urban location, male-female workers, and by broad occupational groups.

All the figures show the change in employment month-on-month (m-o-m)

Monthly Changes in Employment by Sector

Figure 1 shows the m-o-m change in employment by rural-urban sector. The decline in rural employment started in February with over 6 million fewer employed compared to January. The decline in rural employment continued in March, with April recording 73 million job losses compared to March. Employment in rural India recovered through May-July, to decline again till December, barring a recovery in September.

Figure 1: Month-on-month change in total employment, by Sector, India, 2020

Monthly Changes in Employment By Gender

Figure 2 shows monthly change in employment by gender. Given the pre-existing gender gaps in total employment, more men lost jobs in April, 2020, compared to women. The recovery in employment between May and August was also overwhelmingly male. In August 2020, fewer women were employed compared to July. Male employment increased in August, September and October (m-o-m basis), but the magnitude of increase was far lower compared to May and June. Female employment declined in October, November and December. In November and December, male employment declined compared to the previous month.

Figure 2: Month-on-month change in total employment, by gender, India, 2020

Monthly Changes in Employment by Occupation

Figure 3 shows the monthly changes in employment by occupation. The biggest loss of employment was seen in the hawkers and daily wagers category. Their employment recovered through May-July, but declined in August and October, with smaller gains in September, November and December. Salaried workers’ employment declined between February and May, with the largest decline in April. Subsequently, it started to recover in September but declined in November. Individuals who report their main occupation as “Businessmen” also suffered a sharp decline in their employment status in April, but the recovery subsequently has been steadier compared to other categories of employment. Farmers’ employment has been fluctuating but since they are self-employed, the change in employment for this category mirrors the sectoral change (rural/urban) in employment.

Figure 3: Month-on-month change in total employment, by Occupation, India, 2020


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