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PF numbers drop, indicate dismal state of post-Covid job market

In March 2021, the number of new PF subscribers was the lowest in past five years

pf EPF or PF (Provident Fund) is a social security fund to assist an employee’s post-retirement period | Shutterstock

The stark drop in PF numbers indicate the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on the job market in the country. The number of subscribers to EPFO, the government-mandated scheme for employees provident fund in both public and private sectors, show that the number of new PF joinees, indicating new jobs, dropped to its lowest in the one year since PF data tabulation began.

In the one-year period beginning April 2020 when the surging cases saw a full-scale national lockdown till March 2021, the number of new PF subscribers was at 85.48 lakh, the lowest since data began to be kept five years earlier. Interestingly, the number of new PF subscribers were much higher in the years preceding this – in the financial year ending March 2020, the number was at 1.10 crore, while in 2019 it was even higher at 1.39 crore.

The figures prepared by the National Statistical Office (NSO) were released by the government on Wednesday.

The monthly data for the first three months of this financial year also clearly demonstrate the effect of the second wave on new job generation. In the month of May, the peak of the second wave in most of the country, new EPF subscriber numbers plummeted to just above 6 lakh, falling from 7.63 lakh the previous month (when the second wave was slowly taking hold).

If it is any solace, the numbers show an uptick the very next month, indicating at least a start of return to normalcy. The number of new provident fund subscribers in June, the last month for which figures were released by the NSO, showed a quick rise to above 8 lakh, from just above 6 lakh in the previous month.

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