Lockdown led to massive job losses, show early results of an ongoing telephonic survey
Impact on livelihoods
Analysis of preliminary data collected through telephonic interviews between 13th April, 2020 and 9th May, 2020 reveals that nearly two-third of workers -- 57 percent of rural workers and 80 percent of urban workers -- lost their jobs (could not work or find employment) during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Among the 1,594 urban workers surveyed, 81 percent of casual workers, 76 percent of regular salaried workers and 84 percent of self-employed lost their employment (or could not work) during the lockdown. The self-employed in urban areas were the worst hit by the lockdown. It is because they may have faced the problem of not getting piece rate work anymore during the lockdown or they were not allowed by the administration or the police to continue with their daily livelihood related activities/ businesses.
Chart 1: Job losses in rural and urban areas
Source: Data dashboard of the COVID19: Analysis of Impact and Relief Measures Study, Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University, accessed on 13th May, 2020, please click here to access
Among the 2,082 rural workers covered during the phone survey, 66 percent of casual workers, 62 percent of regular salaried workers and 47 percent of self-employed lost their employment (or could not work) during the lockdown period. Thus, the lockdown impacted the urban workers more vis-à-vis the rural workers in terms of job losses. Please consult chart-1.
In rural areas, the self-employed workers were largely farmers. In urban areas, the self-employed were mainly petty shopkeepers, tailors, rag pickers, street vendors, etc. Casual workers included daily wage labourers, apart from construction workers and other such workers. Regular salaried workers included those who receive a monthly salary or stipend, such as domestic helps, security guards, housekeeping staff, garment factory workers, etc.
Impact on earnings
The lockdown reduced the average earnings of workers by 63 percent as compared to the pre-lockdown times i.e. in February 2020. The average earnings of rural workers reduced by 64 percent during the lockdown, whereas the average earnings of their urban counterparts decreased by 61 percent after the imposition of lockdown in comparison to the earnings made in the pre-lockdown period viz. in February, 2020. Please check the data dashboard, which has been created by Centre for Sustainable Employment (APU).
The average weekly earnings of casual workers halved (i.e. reduced by Rs. 456) between pre-lockdown period (Rs. 938 as average earnings per week) and lockdown period (Rs. 482 as average earnings per week). Please watch the YouTube video, which was released by Centre for Sustainable Employment (APU) on 12th May, 2020.
The average weekly earnings of self-employed reduced by almost 91 percent (i.e. reduced by Rs. 2,167) between pre-lockdown period (Rs. 2,385 as average earnings per week) and lockdown period (Rs. 218 as average earnings per week).
In case of regular salaried workers, 47 percent of them experienced no change in their salaries (between pre-lockdown and lockdown periods), 35 percent of them did not receive their salaries, 16 percent of them witnessed a fall in their salaries and for 2 percent of such workers the salary hike was held back.
The COVID-19 lockdown impacted agricultural incomes badly too. Almost 15 percent of farmers were unable to sell their produce, whereas 37 percent of them could not harvest their crops. All that happened because of labour shortages, dearth of agricultural machinery, and transportation/ logistical bottlenecks. Nearly 37 percent of farmers sold their crops at a reduced price and only 12 percent of them were able to sell their rabi crops at a regular or higher price.
Impact on households
As a result of the lockdown, 8 out of 10 households were unable to pay their rents. Altogether 37 percent of households (nearly 42 percent of urban households) reported borrowing money to cover the expenses incurred during the lockdown.
Most rural and urban households took loans from informal sources like friends, family members and money lenders.
In urban areas, two-third of households had less than a week's worth of money to cover the expenses on basic essentials. In contrast to that, almost 37 percent of rural households had less than a week's worth of money to cover for the expenses on basic essentials. This shows that the urban households were relatively more vulnerable in comparison to their rural counterparts.
Public Distribution System
Nearly 89 percent of rural households and 69 percent of urban households who had ration cards were able to procure rations from ration shops. On an average, a household received 5-7 kilograms of foodgrains per person per household.
Almost 6 percent of rural households and 15 percent of urban households who had ration cards were unable to procure rations from PDS shops during the lockdown period.
Around 92 percent of rural households and 76 percent of urban households had ration cards.
Jan Dhan Yojana
In order to help the poor during the COVID-19 lockdown, the government had on 26th March, 2020 declared that an ex-gratia monthly payment of Rs. 500 would be given to women Jan Dhan account holders for the next three months, starting from April. Data from the Azim Premji University COVID-19 Livelihoods Survey indicates that nearly 30 percent of the Jan Dhan account holders had received the cash transfers, whereas 6 percent of them did not receive that.
Almost 64 percent of households surveyed did not have Jan Dhan accounts.
Approximately 36 percent of poor/ vulnerable households (earning less than Rs. 10,000 per month in February 2020) in urban areas received at least one cash transfer. As opposed to that, nearly 53 percent of poor/ vulnerable households in rural areas received at least one cash transfer.
Only one-fourth of 688 landed farmers (in the sample) received transfers through the PM-KISAN scheme.
About the survey
Around 3,970 households have been surveyed so far out of the 5,200 households to be surveyed in all.
The survey has been conducted in collaboration with Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Centre for Advocacy and Research, Gauri Media Trust, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity, Pradan, Samalochana, Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), Srijan and Vaagdhara.
It should be noted that the respondents for the survey were selected (using collaborators' networks) through a purposive sampling method to ensure diversity in location and type of work done. The sample is not representative of the states or the country.
About 60 percent of the sample respondents were from rural areas. More than half the sample respondents were women. About 80 percent of the sample respondents were Hindus and 8 percent of them were Muslims. About 80 percent of the sample households earned less than Rs. 10,000 a month.
So far, the survey has been conducted among 3,592 workers (casual workers, self-employed and regular salaried workers) in rural and urban areas.
COVID-19 and Livelihoods in India Phone Survey (CLIPS): Early Results, released on 12th May, 2020, Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University, please click here to access
Data dashboard of the COVID19: Analysis of Impact and Relief Measures study, Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University, accessed on 13th May, 2020, please click here to access
Press release: Finance Minister announces Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona Virus, Ministry of Finance, dated 26th March, 2020, Press Information Bureau Delhi, please click here to access
CSE Working Paper: Pandemic, informality, and vulnerability: Impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods in India -Surbhi Kesar, Rosa Abraham, Rahul Lahoti, Paaritosh Nath and Amit Basole, released in June 2020, Center for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University, please click here to access
Image Courtesy: Inclusive Media for Change/ Shambhu Ghatak