• 09-May-2023

Slowdown hits hard, Manipur’s jobless rate twice national average

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Nearly 65 per cent of men in the state were reported as self-employed in rural areas, compared to the all-India rate of 59 per cent.

  • A worsening employment crisis linked to a slowdown in its services sectors — a key driver of the hill state’s economy — seems to be a contributing factor for the unrest in Manipur.
  • Data from the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for 2021-22, the latest nationwide employment survey, shows Manipur to be among the states with the highest unemployment rate for the age group of 15 years and above, at 9 per cent — more than double the national unemployment rate of 4.1 per cent in 2021-22, and higher than other states in the Northeast.
  • The unemployment rate in the state’s rural areas, the predominantly hilly regions where the Kuki and Naga tribal populations are concentrated, was estimated to be 9.5 per cent in the PLFS for 2021-22, while the unemployment rate in the urban areas, where much of the Meitei population lives, was marginally lower at 7.6 per cent. Nearly 65 per cent of men in the state were reported as self-employed in rural areas, compared to the all-India rate of 59 per cent.
  • A continued slowdown in its services sectors, including trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, communications, and the real estate sub-sectors, has meant that Manipur’s tertiary sector — the highest contributor to the state’s GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) — failed to generate employment opportunities for the youth.
  • The only tertiary sector that showed a degree of resilience is public administration, which had a Gross Value Added (GVA) growth of 11.8 per cent in FY20, over 32 per cent in FY21, and double-digit growth in the estimates in FY22.
  • Public administration is a proxy for government spending, including on jobs — a point of contention in the demand for quotas in Manipur that resonates with similar agitations in other states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Anecdotal references point to a steady exodus of young job-seekers from the state for employment opportunities in the service sector hubs of the National Capital Region, Bengaluru and 
  • This is even more contextual given the unique problem that the state has — a moribund secondary sector that has failed to keep pace with its primary agricultural base, including about 3,268 square kms of area covered by bamboo forests that makes Manipur one of India’s largest bamboo producing states.
  • While Manipur’s primary sector — agricultural activities, fishing, mining etc — recorded a growth rate of over 4 per cent in FY20 (Gross State Value Added at basic price), over 9 per cent in FY21 and a projection of nearly 8 per cent growth in FY22, the state’s secondary sector – manufacturing and allied activities – registered a contraction of 4.1 per cent in FY20, a 3.4 per cent slide in FY21, and a dip of 8.5 per cent in FY22, according to the state’s directorate for economics and statistics.
  • This is despite Manipur having the highest number of handicraft units and craftspersons (skilled and semi-skilled) in the entire Northeast region. Handlooms is the largest cottage industry in Manipur and the state ranks among the top five in terms of the number of looms in the country.
  • “In our previous term, we faced the full brunt of the pandemic which started towards the end of financial year 2019-20. The pandemic disrupted the lives and livelihood of the people and also posed a big challenge to public finances of the state for two consecutive years.
  • We had to meet challenges of the pandemic along with managing the state’s finances,” Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, said while presenting the State Budget in February this year.