India’s urban unemployment rate


  • India’s urban unemployment rate jumped to 12.6 per cent in the April-June quarter of 2021, compared to 9.3 per cent in the January-March quarter.

  • It, however, eased from the 20.8 per cent level seen during the first wave of the Covid pandemic, the latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) shows.

Keynumbers of India’s urban unemployment rate

  • The unemployment rate had shot up sharply during the nationwide lockdown in 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic.
  • Data shows that in the 15-29 age group, 25.5 per cent of urban youth remained unemployed in April-June 2021 as against 34.7 per cent in April-June 2020 and 22.9 per cent in January-March 2021.

    urban unemployment rate
    Credit: Times of India
  • Urban females fared worse than urban males. In the 15-29 age group, the unemployment rate for urban females stood at 31 per cent compared with 24 per cent for males during April-June 2021. The unemployment rate for urban females and males stood at 36 per cent and 34.3 per cent, respectively, in April-June 2020.
    • The unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of unemployed persons in the labour force. The urban unemployment PLFS is based on the current weekly status approach, under which a person is considered unemployed if he/she did not work even for one hour on any day during the week but sought or was available for work at least for one hour on any day during the period.
    • Labour force, according to current weekly status (CWS), is the number of persons either employed or unemployed on an average in a week preceding the date of the survey.
  • Labour force participation rate in current weekly status in urban areas for people aged 15 years and above was 46.8 per cent in the April-June quarter of 2021, up from 45.9 per cent in the same period a year ago. It was 47.5 per cent in January-March 2021.

CMIE data

  • According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), which provides regular data on unemployment, the urban unemployment rate was 9.78 per cent in April, 14.72 per cent in May and 10.08 per cent in June last year.
  • It eased to 8.32 per cent in July 2021, increased in August to 9.78 per cent and then again moderated to 8.64 per cent in September.
  • The urban unemployment rate rose to 9.30 per cent in December and has eased since then to 8.16 per cent in January and 7.55 per cent in February 2022, as per CMIE.


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