New Delhi: The government is trying hard to dispel the impression of economic growth sans jobs. But the data of job additions by top rung companies, including public sector units, in the last two financial years tell a different story. Far from employment generation, a few of them have actually recorded a fall in headcounts.
An analysis of the headcount in big companies — most of them stock exchange listed and BSE Sensex constituents — shows that the number of people on roll has mostly remained stagnant or grew at snail’s pace.
The total number of employees in case of corporates such as ITC, Reliance Industries (RIL) and Bharat Forge has been flat between FY15 and FY17. Real estate giant DLF and public sector power major NTPC witnessed a fall in the number of employees. Those who reported a slight increase included Punjab National Bank (PNB), Jet Airways and Maruti Suzuki (see chart).
In case of HDFC Bank, a rise was seen at the end of March, 2017 compared to FY15, but it was lower than the previous year. The total employees on rolls were 75,977 in 2014-15. It rose to 87,263 the next year but fell to 84,041 in 2016-17.
“The big companies are the most important employers. They are the most preferred after the government with which people seek employment. So, if the government or large corporates do not hire or hire fewer, then it will cause a strain on the household sector,” said Mahesh Vyas, managing director and CEO at leading research firm Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).
“So, it is important that these organisations do keep steady pace in employment. The unorganised sector is not the preferred source of employment in the country,” he added.
It is not that just private sector jobs are vanishing. Government-owned companies such as NHPC, ONGC, Coal India and SAIL too have almost frozen hiring for the last few years. The public sector entities are major employers of both skilled and unskilled workers.
The Modi government has repeatedly locked horn with the main opposition party over job scenario in the country. While the government has claimed job growth and presented favourable data to support it, the opposition has shown a gloomy picture with regards to employment opportunity.
They have claimed that the government’s economic policies such as demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST have actually resulted in job losses.
The government think-tank Niti Aayog has rejected the narrative of jobless growth in the country. It has questioned the data put out by the detractors. While maintaining that the last credible data was compiled by NSSO in 2011-12, it has asserted that jobs are currently being created in various sectors.
“In India, over 90 per cent jobs are in informal and unorganised sectors. The companies for which the headcount figures have been taken form a very small part of the organised sector. So, you cannot extrapolate this for the entire country. It is quite possible that because of higher efficiency, big companies are hiring less but smaller companies are hiring more. How do we know that?” said a top economist wishing not to be named.