83% Youth Among India’s Jobless, Odisha Among States With Poor Employment Outcomes: ILO Study

New Delhi: India’s youth accounted for 83% of the country’s total unemployed population in 2022, a joint study conducted recently by International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Institute of Human Development (IHD) has found.

According to India Employment Report 2024, the share of educated youngsters among unemployed rose from 54.2 per cent in 2000 to 65.7 per cent in 2022.  “This indicates that the problem of unemployment in India has become increasingly concentrated among the youth, especially the educated ones in urban areas,” the report said.

The study also found that employment and underemployment of youngsters saw a rise from 2000 to 2019, but declined during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

The proportion of educated youth, with at least secondary education, among the total unemployed youth has almost doubled — from 35.2 per cent in 2000 to 65.7 per cent in 2022.

Regional Variation

The study found significant variations in employment outcomes across states. Among states which have struggled with poor employment outcomes over the years is Odisha, reflecting the influence of regional policies, the report observed. The other struggling states are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh

Gender Gap

The study also shed light on the gender gap with unemployment more among women (76.7 per cent) than men (62.2 per cent) in the educated but unemployed youth category, the Indian Express reported, quoting from the report.

Self-Employed Workers

The Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), Worker Population Ratio (WPR) and Unemployment Rate (UR) witnessed a sustained decline between 2000 and 2018, and improved post-2019, the report stated.

However, the increase in employment post-2019 was largely driven by self-employed workers, with a significant portion comprising unpaid family workers, predominantly women. Informal employment consists of nearly 90 per cent of workers engaged while the share of regular employment, which saw a steady rise post-2000, witnessed a decline after 2018.

Demographic Challenges

The study found that with a significant portion of the population falling within the working age bracket, India stands to benefit from what is termed a “demographic dividend”. However, it may not last long. The youth population, which constituted 27 per cent of the total population in 2021, is projected to decrease to 23 per cent by 2036, the report stated.

Migration & Urbanisation

The report projected a migration rate of around 40 per cent by 2030 and a substantial urban population growth driven by migration, particularly from eastern and central regions to southern, western, and northern regions, Mint reported.


India will add 7-8 million (70-80 lakh) youths to its labour workforce during the next decade, the study noted, and proposed five key action points:

  • Promote job creation
  • Improve quality of employment
  • Address inequalities in labour market
  • Strengthen both skills and policies of active labour market
  • Bridge the knowledge deficits on labour market patterns and youth employment

Criticism and Reaction

While the Opposition attacked BJP Government for the rise in unemployment, Chief Economic Adviser to Government of India V. Anantha Nageswaran said government cannot intervene in every social or economic problem. “We need to get out of this mindset. In the normal world, it is the commercial sector, and those who engage in for-profit activity, who need to do the hiring,” told media.

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