Resources – Employment Datafeatured

November 30, 2018

What is the state of employment in India? Data on this topic is very confusing because India is huge and very diverse. Also, a large part of the population does not have a single employer, regular wage-paying job. This means that any counting of employment has to necessarily make many assumptions. We help you navigate this complexity.


  1. Without a doubt, the best place to start is our InfoCapsule on the subject. We not only describe the complex reality of employment in India but also familiarize you with six popular discussions on this subject.

  1. A Task Force was set up by the Government of India for ‘improving job data’ in India. The report of the task force is short and very readable. It can be found here.

  1. Azim Premji University recently came out with the report “State of Working in India.” This readable report has data from various sources and also a good discussion of different issues.

Data sources

Given the reality of employment, in India agencies measuring it make assumptions. It is important to look at the full reports to understand these assumptions. Some prominent data sources are listed below

Household surveys

  1. NSSO under the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation carried out employment surveys every five years. The last survey is from 2012 and can be found here.

  1. Labor Bureau carried out annual surveys and the report for the fifth survey can be found here

  1. CMIE in association with BSE has been carrying out quarterly surveys and the reports for these can be found here

Enterprise surveys

Data from Enterprise surveys should be interpreted with caution as most surveys have a very limited sample frame. The report from Task Force on employment statistics has a good description of the limitation of these surveys

  1. The last economic census was carried out in 2013-14

  1. The seventh round Quarterly Employment Survey from labor bureau

EPF data

  1. The Employee Provident Funds Organization has started releasing data on Monthly additions to the payroll. This data can be found here


  1. The economist Surjit Bhalla and Thirthamoy Das have written many articles on why they consider the CMIE employment numbers to be incorrect and what the actual employment creation has been in the last 4-5 years. Their paper can be found here

  1. Estimates of Bhalla and Das have been countered by many people including CMIE’s Mahesh Vyas. His writings can be found in many publications including on the CMIE site itself.
  1. Economist Pulak Ghosh and Soumya Kanti Ghosh studied administrative databases such as EPFO and ESIC and tried to construct payroll data for India. A presentation from them can be found here

Many people have criticized the over interpretation of EPFO data. One such criticism can be found here

  1. HT has a good 5 part series on job data. Here is the link for part 2 where the women’s LFPR is discussed in detail. The other parts are worth reading too.

  1. Manish Sabrawal writes regularly on employment. One of his main arguments is that India’s problem is not lack of employment but lack of formal employment. His articles can be Googled.

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