ILO report shows increase in agriculture employment after 2019

The 2024 India Employment Report, jointly authored by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Institute for Human Development (IHD), highlights a notable shift in the country’s labour dynamics. Traditionally, there has been a gradual move away from agriculture toward non-farm sectors. However, the report underscores that this trend has been reversed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key findings reveal a stagnation in manufacturing employment, hovering around 12-14%, while the increase in non-farm employment has been primarily absorbed by the construction and services sectors. After 2019, this slow transition reversed due to the pandemic, with a rise in the share of agricultural employment as well as an increase in the absolute size of the agricultural workforce.

The period post-2019 witnessed a substantial uptick in agricultural employment, surpassing the growth rate in agriculture’s gross value added. The agriculture workforce declined at a growing pace between 2000 and 2019 but increased to a very high rate of 8.9% between 2019 and 2022. The number of workers in the agriculture and allied sectors increased by 30.8 million in 2020, 12.1 million in 2021 and 12.9 million in 2022.

This surge, attributed to a return to subsistence activities amidst dwindling opportunities outside agriculture exacerbated by the pandemic-induced employment crisis, points towards a rise in informal, unpaid, and low-paying work, particularly in farming and construction sectors, and among women.


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