At least half a million jobs have been lost in the country during the October-December quarter, according to the first comprehensive official survey of the employment fallout of the economic meltdown undertaken by the Centre.
According to the “quick” survey, carried out by the Union Labour and Employment Ministry’s Labour Bureau during the period from January 7 to 24, the total estimated employment in eight important industries has declined from 16.2 million in September to 16 million in October, 15.9 million in November and 15.7 million in December.
The industries covered in the survey include mining, textiles (including garments), metals & metal products, automobiles, gems & jewellery, construction, transport and IT/BPO and was based on a sample of 2,581 units in 20 centres scattered across 11 States.
The Labour Bureau’s report has, however, admitted to limitations in the survey, as it covers only units employing 10 or more workers and does not look at sectors such as tourism and financial services, which have also been badly affected by the current slowdown.
While overall employment in the selected industries has come down at an average monthly rate of 1.01 per cent, the decline is especially steep in the case of gems & jewellery (8.58 per cent), transport (4.03 per cent), automobiles (2.42 per cent), metals & metal products (1.91 per cent) and textiles (0.91 per cent).
The Centre does not intend lowering the interest rate on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), currently 8.5 per cent on the monthly running balances of the estimated 4.5 crore members subscribing to the scheme.
There is no plan to revise the rate as of now, the Union Labour and Employment Minister, Mr Oscar Fernandes, told presspersons at the 9th Editors’ Conference on Social Sector Issues here on Wednesday.
EPF board meet soon
The EPF Organisation’s Board of Trustees will be meeting “sometime this month” to decide on the interest rate to be fixed for 2008-09, the Secretary in the Ministry, Ms Sudha Pillai, said. As of now, the rate remains at the 8.5 per cent that was fixed for the previous fiscal.
The money markets are looking at a reduction in the EPF rate in line with a softening of other policy rates.
According to the Ministry, the EPF had a membership of 449.19 lakh as on March 31, covering 532,702 establishments and with an invested corpus of roughly Rs 2,00,000 crore.