ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India's Labour Market during the 2000s

Surveying the Changes

The growth of gross domestic product in every sub-sector of the Indian economy accelerated during the second half of the 2000s, compared to the first half of the decade. However, employment growth in most sectors except construction decelerated. This jobless growth was partly the result of positive changes such as the reduction of "distress employment" in agriculture, created during the previous half-decade, and an expansion in the population of students. Rural wages rose and average educational levels of the workforce improved. Government interventions in rural India since the mid-2000s, particularly the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, seemed to have aided these positive transformations. However, manufacturing employment in the country fell and employment growth slowed down in most constituents of the services sector. The new jobs generated were predominantly in rural construction. The slow progress in the diversification of India's employment structure has led to large-scale withdrawal of women from the labour force, with the number of women thus "missing" being as large as the population of Brazil.

The author would like to thank an anonymous referee of this journal and Madhura Swaminathan for useful suggestions, and Minu Thomas for research assistance.

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