One survey or the other across the globe presents a gloomy picture of unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, UK unemployment rose by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the three months to March when the effects of the pandemic started to hit the economy. However, in the context of J&K, there is no immediate survey as to the impact of the pestilence on the jobs even though the scale of joblessness is bound to be on the larger side. In the absence of jobs, people don’t have incomes, which, in turn, makes basic livelihood difficult. The poor are bound to get severely affected, if not already. A large section of the middle class who are staring at salary cuts or job losses are also at the peril. The pandemic has already reduced their purchasing power and ability to pay loans. This, in turn, will have an impact across a range of sectors.
The unemployment crisis is nothing new in the context of Jammu and Kashmir or as a matter of the fact for the country. An official report indicated a 6% unemployment rate in 2017-18, the highest in 45 years.
This trend has now got aggregated due to the pandemic which has thrown the economy into kind of recession and in fact, the risk managers, as per to a report by the World Economic Forum, expect a prolonged global slump.
The unemployment rate in India was 24% in the week ending May 17, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Its April data shows that it was mainly small traders and labourers, followed by entrepreneurs, and then salaried employees who lost their jobs. This is not startling given the impact of the virus. When factories and shops are closed, when daily wage labourers and street vendors can’t work, when companies begin losing revenues drastically, there will be job losses. On the other hand, while the government is opening up businesses in selected areas, restoring these jobs immediately remains a problem. The government in the middle of it is trying it bit to ameliorate living standards of the some of the affected. For example, the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (RDD&PR) announced to have disbursed Rs 170 crore under MGNREGA ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr “in order to mitigate the economic hardships faced by the rural poor during COVID-19 pandemic. It may surely be a help to a few but what about a lot. There are surely issues of resources, and identifying and targeting beneficiaries. But the government has do a lot soon to help unemployed to overcome this crisis.