Despite tall claims, unemployment among youth remains a challenge | India News – Times of India

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While the state governments of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh continue to make tall claims about tackling unemployment by facilitating job opportunities, these claims seem to hold little water, especially among the young population in the age group of 15-29 years.
The high unemployment rate among educated youth has become a challenge for policymakers in all the three states.The prevalence of unemployment dominates the political discourse leading up to every election in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal. However, “superficial” measures undertaken by the governments upon assuming power have not brought much change in the situation.
The lack of job opportunities aligned with ambitions and qualifications of these young individuals is compelling them to seek opportunities in other countries. The search for more promising prospects abroad has led to many youths being duped by illegal travel agents on the pretext of sending them abroad. In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of cases against unscrupulous travel agents for cheating gullible people on the pretext of sending them on work visas to countries like the USA, Canada, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others.
This year was no exception, as the unemployment rate – the proportion of individuals without employment within the labour force – persisted at elevated levels in all the three states, significantly surpassing the national average, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS).
The urban areas of Himachal Pradesh witnessed the highest rate of joblessness in the country within the 15-29 year age group. The rate increased from 31.9% in the April-June quarter to 33.9% in the subsequent July-September quarter – nearly two times higher than the national average.
On the contrary, during the same period, the nationwide unemployment rate for this age group decreased from 17.6% to 17.35%. The overall unemployment across all the age groups was pegged at 15.2% in the second quarter of 2023, compared to 14.5% in the first quarter, exceeding the national average of 6.6% in July-September and 6.7% in the AprilJune period.
The neighbouring state of Punjab exhibited the second-highest unemployment rate among the younger age groups in the region. The rate increased from 19.5% in the AprilJune period to 20.5% in July-September. In contrast, Haryana demonstrated improvement compared to its bordering states, with the unemployment rate in the 15-29 age group in the urban areas decreasing from 20.7% in AprilJune to 13.7% in July-September. The overall unemployment rates in Punjab and Haryana were 8.8% and 5.2%, respectively.
The labour force participation rate (LFPR), representing the portion of the working population engaged in employ- ment or actively seeking jobs, stood at 45.9% in the second quarter, compared to 45.1% in the first quarter for the young population in Punjab.
In the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, 39% of the youth constituted the labour force in the July-September period, and it was 39.9% in the preceding quarter. For Haryana, the youth labour force participation rate was 38.5% in the July-September period, showing an increase from 35.8% in the April-June period.
A majority of the workforce is involved in the tertiary sector, which includes services, trade, transport, and storage. It is followed by the secondary sector, which includes mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction, and supply of electricity, gas, and water. In the second quarter, the tertiary sector employed 58.71% of the workforce in Punjab, 57.95% in Haryana, and 56.39% in Himachal Pradesh. The secondary sector constituted 43% of the labour force in Himachal, 38.62% in Punjab, and 38.28% in Haryana.
As far as agriculture is concerned, 3.77% were involved in Haryana, 2.68% in Punjab, and 0.62% in Himachal.
Professor Aswini Kumar Nanda from the department of economics at the Central University of Jammu, emphasised that the 15-29 age group was a critical period when individuals actively seek employment, particularly in the organised sector.
Recognising the limited capacity of the government to absorb the workforce, Prof Nanda laid stress on facilitating the private sector to engage a larger share of the workforce. He also highlighted the importance of the state governments in the region taking policy decisions that empower private entities to generate more employment opportunities.


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