An estimated 6.6 million white collar professional jobs were lost between May and August due to the pandemic-induced lockdown in India, according to data by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). The massive job loss has resulted in the lowest employment of these professionals since 2016 and wiped away all the gains made in their employment over the past four years.
The latest CMIE report throws more light into the continued deteriorating condition of salaried jobs in India due to the pandemic.
Employment of professionally qualified white collar workers fell steeply to 12.2 million May-August 2020, compared to 18.8 million during the corresponding period last year. White collar professionals include software engineers, physicians, teachers, accountants, analysts, etc, who are professionally qualified and are employed in some private or government organisation. However, the term does not include similarly professionally qualified persons who run their own practice as these are classified as 'qualified self-employed professional entrepreneurs’.
"The job loss witnessed by white collar professionals was the biggest year-on-year loss among all salaried employees. The next biggest loss was among industrial workers. On an year-on-year basis, 5 million employees were rendered jobless during May-August period. This translates into a 26 per cent fall in employment among industrial workers over a year," the CMIE report noted.
It is to be noted that employment in the category of white collar professional employees and other employees has been rising steadily since 2016. An estimated 12.5 million white-collar professional employees were employed during January-April, 2016. By September-December, 2019, the same figures had touched 18.7 million before falling to 18.1 million during January-April, 2020. April, the first month of the lockdown, had seen job losses to the tune of 121 million.
The CMIE report, however, noted that the lockdown did not impact white collar clerical employees—desk-work employees ranging from secretaries and office clerks to BPO/KPO workers and data-entry operators. "This category of workers has not been seeing any growth since 2016. In fact, it has slid quite sharply since 2018 from about 15 million to less than 12 million by 2020. Interestingly, it did not slide any further during the lockdown."