'Statistical jugglery': Cong slams govt over unemployment

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Congress leader Jairam Ramesh during an interview with PTI, in New Delhi

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh (File image)

New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday accused the Modi government of indulging in "statistical jugglery" over the unemployment issue, and said that the truth remains that the unemployment rate today is the highest it has been in the last four decades.


Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said a Union Minister recently derided the ILO's Employment Report as a symptom of India's "slave mentality." "Instead, he made the absurd claim of having added 52 million new formal jobs between FY20 and FY23 based on EPFO, ESI, and National Pension Scheme database," he said.

Ramesh's remarks were a reference to the reported comments by Union minister Anurag Thakur at a media conclave last week when he had said that India has been relying on international rating agencies for years, but it should now go by the data from domestic ones which are now equally equipped.

Ramesh said as many economists have since proved, the whole job creation between FY20-23 was at best 2.27 crore.


"These 2.27 crore jobs over three years is a far cry from the Modi Sarkar's original promise of creating 2 crore jobs a year," he said.

However, it now appears that even this 2.27 crore figure is an overestimation, Ramesh said.

The Supreme Court verdict in 2020 required the EPFO to include contractual workers at any establishment which employs more than 20 people, he noted. A substantial number of workers who were already employed are now being reflected in EPFO data, these are not new jobs created, he argued.


"Part of the net increase in EPFO has to do with ease of registration, the process is now online, free of cost, and hassle-free, without requiring a visit to the EPFO office. Subscribers can now transfer their PF accounts while changing employers, without having to submit a claim for final settlement," he said.

Noting that establishments with 20 or more employees come under the purview of the EPF act, Ramesh said firms which move from 19 to 20 employees in one year will suddenly appear in the EPFO data as 20 new "jobs" even though net job creation is a single new job.

"Whatever statistical jugglery they engage in to cover it up, the truth remains: the unemployment rate today is the highest it has been in the last four decades," Ramesh asserted.

He also tagged a media report saying the government's claim of creating 52 million new formal jobs in the last four years is "misleading".

The Congress has been attacking the BJP government over its handling of the economy, particularly on the issues of price rise and unemployment.