Author: Reena Devi
Author Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Kamala Nehru College.
Abstract: In India, whilst contribution of agriculture to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has declined considerably over the years (i.e. only 14.39 percent of GDP during 2018-19), agriculture still remains a dominant mainstay of the rural economy as 53.2 percent of rural males and 71.1 percent rural females are dependent on agricultural sector for employment. Despite this, the gap between job seekers in rural areas and employment opportunities in agriculture has been widening and the non-farm sector has become an increasingly main source of livelihood in rural areas. This paper analyses emerging trends of employment diversification in rural India, factors
responsible for the growth of non-farm employment, and identifies industries within the rural non-farm sector which are providing employment opportunities to the rural workforce. Further, the paper also looks into the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on rural employment in India. This study is predominantly based on Periodic Labour Force surveys (PLFS, 2017-18 and 2018-19). The broad story that emerged from this analysis is that a significant structural change has taken place but it has failed to generate productive and decent work opportunities in the rural areas. Nevertheless, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened the situation of the rural economy as the future of the rural labour market would be more uncertain due to pandemic induced reverse migration of urban workers (who were previously employed in casual works in urban areas) to their villages.
Keywords: Labour force, Workforce Participation Rate, Informalisation, De-feminisation, Reverse Migration.