Thursday, February 22

COVID-19 Pandemic and Livelihood Loss: Variations in Unemployment Outcomes and Lessons for Future

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By Arup Mitra & Jitender Singh

Working Paper No- 405

The paper notes significant variations in the rise in the unemployment rate across regions though the nationwide lockdown was implemented without any discrimination. It explores the reasons of such disparities and notes that migration is an important factor. States with higher rates of migration and urbanisation rate, greater dependency on casual wage employment and non-agricultural employment witnessed huger, adverse impact on livelihood. In fact, states which had lower rates of unemployment prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown strategy adopted to contain the virus, are the ones which witnessed a surge in the unemployment rate after the implementation of the lockdown. In the context of growth and development the paper indirectly brings out the importance of the large cities which with agglomeration benefits are able to offer livelihood to natives as well as millions of migrants coming from far and wide in search of jobs. The return migration to the rural areas poses new challenges for the government though in a positive sense it also provides scope to rethink about developing the rural non-farm sector in a major way. Should the migrant population travel back to the cities, the preparation needs to be made in a tangible way to strengthen the functioning of the urban informal economy and the slum-living which would mean considerable overlaps among housing, employment and health interventions.

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