Two days back, the Odisha government unveiled its austerity package to combat a virulent pandemic that has devoured its revenue sources. Among the string of cost-cutting measures to scale back expenditure, the state government has slammed the door on fresh recruitment and new posts unless they are mandated by exigent situations.
The freeze on new posts would be valid for two years. The government’s reluctance to create new posts has dashed the hopes of countless job seekers who are coping with an increasingly hostile job ambience in a post Covid world.
Each day, the media in all its genres bombards us with depressing stories of retrenchments across sectors as corporates sharpen focus on optimising costs and operate with a bare minimum, skeletal workforce.
The focus on extracting more from less is more pronounced now than at any time in recent memory. The media industry, too, is in the throes of a sinking crisis with no green shoots of revival visible yet. Layoffs are palpable in all media outlets– print or digital as adverting and other revenue has all but parched up.
Traditionally, a government job is considered the safest hedge against volatility in the employment market. While his counterpart seated in glitzy ivory towers is drawing fat pay cheques, the humble government employee draws immense solace in his ‘job security’. Private companies can be cruel in dropping bombshells– delivering pink slips to their staff especially when they are in the ‘mid-career’ blues.
Those with minimal risk appetite take refuge in government job putatively because of the attendant security it offers. But what options does the youth have when the government itself makes its offices impervious to the aspiring?
If we take even a cursory look at the prevailing unemployment rate in the country, it continues to be worrisome despite the sharp rebound in labour participation.
Data from Mumbai-based think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) illustrates the unemployment rate fell “very sharply” from 23.5 per cent in May 2020 to 11 per cent in June.
However, the think tank’s Managing Director and CEO Mahesh Vyas said the 11 per cent unemployment rate in June is “still quite high” compared to the less than 8 per cent rate before the lockdown.
“The unemployment rate had been rising steadily since the 2017-18 when it had averaged 4.6 per cent. In 2018-19 it rose to 6.3 per cent than in 2019-20 further to 7.6 per cent. Compared to these rates and also the trend was seen in them, the unemployment rate in June 2020 at 11 per cent is still quite high,” Vyas wrote in the CMIE release.
India’s estimated employment in June 2020 was at 374 million, almost 30 million short of the average 404 million employment in 2019-20. While the gap may have shrunk a little more in the first week of July, there is growing evidence to support that fact that the pace of recovery is slowing down.
Till the Coronavirus peters out, ‘jobless growth’ would continue to faze governments at all levels.