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COVID-19 second wave | Women, Gen Z have been hit hardest as Indian job market falls

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has, undoubtedly, hit the labour market hard, with the unemployment rate inching to 13 percent in June, the fourth consecutive month of employment figures taking a hit. As per a recent report by CMIE (Center for Monitoring Indian Economy), around 15 million jobs were lost in May 2021. In fact, the labour participation rate, which stood at 35 percent in May, further fell to almost 34 percent the following month.

But even amongst this, the worst hit is the Gen Z (those below 25 years of age) and female workers, showed a recent LinkedIn survey.

Crushed Aspirations

The survey by the popular job networking platform indicated that the individual confidence index scores, especially that of female professionals, plunged 4 times more as compared to their male counterparts.

The trend is reflective of the falling global female participation rates, which declined by 5 percent due to the pandemic, in contrast with just 3.9 percent fall for men, as per ILOs (International Labour Organisation) 2021 report on World Employment and Social Outlook Trends. Even in terms of seeking opportunities and employment again, nine out of ten women have become inactive, implying that they are unable to engage in paid work. This figure, for men, is relatively lower at 7 out of every 10 men.

The ILO report details the worrying female labour participation trends in South Asia. Consider this. In 2019, 157 million women were part of the global workforce, which drastically fell to just 144 million in 2020.

Anwiti Singh, who graduated with a Masters's degree in communication this year, recounts how her company decided to cut down on new hirings because of the second wave. “Despite clearing the interview, my job was put on hold, since the company said that the ongoing budget cut had severely impacted their ability to pay new joinees. Even work as a freelancer is coming far and few in between, since story pitches are not being funded”, she clarified.

The survey also shed light on how this has disproportionately affected women in terms of their careers and finances. While women are twice more likely to be tensed about job prospects, every 1 in 4 working women is also plagued with concerns of burgeoning expenses and debt, a concern shared by just 1 in 3 working men.

No place for the young?

While the present government recently announced that it is committed to improving employment outcomes, particularly for women and other vulnerable sections of society, the current scenario paints a very gloomy picture in this regard.

“Post covid, finding a job as per desire as well as qualification has become difficult. There is a sense of anxiety amongst millennials about the future. Other than right jobs, they are certainly looking for a positive disruption on the job market to settle down as soon as possible”, said Ankush, a recent graduate.

The survey revealed that nearly 30% of Gen Z and 26% of millennials are troubled by the lack of jobs, which is only exacerbated by the prolonged crisis that seems to have no end. The employment decline in young workers is 2.5 times more than that of adults, leading to an increasing number of Gen Z (23%) and millennials (24%) worried about their finances. This tallied well with the declining EPFO payroll data, which hit its 10-month low, as almost 7 lakh people joined the workforce. Notably, around 1,30,000 of these subscribers were in the age group of 22-25. In the age bracket of 26-28 years, only 56,000 additions were made, which was marginally lower to 76,000 subscribers in the 29-35 age segment.

Ayushi Malik, who graduated this year, is one of the many millennials caught in the anxiety of unemployment. “As the pandemic destroyed the chances of campus placements in the media industry, it took me a lot of time to come to terms with the horrors of unemployment despite pursuing my Master's from a great university. I know it is not an isolated feeling as many of my batchmates and millennials are going through this currently”, she said.


Source: Money Control | JUNE 23, 2021

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