Picture This: India’s unemployment rate in 2020 highest since 1991

27 May 2021 | Economy, Employment

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India’s unemployment rate rose sharply in 2020 to reach the highest it has been since 1991, according to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) ILOSTAT database.

The Figure above tracks India’s unemployment rate (percentage of total labour force) between 1991 and 2020. It tracks the data for nine countries other than India. These are Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka (from India’s neighbourhood), Brazil, China, and Russia (from BRICS), United Kingdom, United States of America, and Germany (from OECD).

You can add or remove any of these countries in the chart above by clicking on the name in the legend.

India’s unemployment rate rose between 2008 (5.36 percent) and 2010 (5.65 percent) and then fell between 2013 (5.67 percent) and 2019 (5.27 percent). It then rose sharply to 7.11 percent in the pandemic year. This is the highest it has been since 1991.

India has had the highest unemployment rate in its immediate neighbourhood while among BRICS nations, Brazil’s unemployment rate has risen sharply between 2014 (6.66 percent) and 2020 (13.67 percent).

When compared to United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, India had a higher unemployment rate than the other three between 2015 and 2019 but in 2020, US had higher unemployment rate than India.


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