A daily wager’s child is much less likely to end up like the father now

A daily wager’s child is much less likely to end up like the father now
Representational imagePixabay
  • In 2004, over 80% of sons of casual wage workers found themselves in similar jobs – that’s reducing, says a new report.
  • From 2004 to 2017, the creation of regular wage jobs picked up pace, until they were hit by slowdown in 2019 and pandemic later on.
  • For graduates under 25 years, the rate of unemployment is at 42%, the report adds.
For generations, the children of daily wagers have been going back to the same job – extending the circle of poverty. While that circle is still at play — its’ relenting a little as per ‘State of Working India 2023’ report released by Azim Premji University on Wednesday.

In 2004, over 80% of sons of casual wage workers were themselves in casual employment. This percentage fell from 83% to 53% by 2018 in 14 years — thanks to better quality work such as regular salaried jobs for workers that belong to non-SC/ST castes.

In the case of workers from scheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST), the extent of fall is not as steep as it fell from 10% from the earlier 86%.

This also coincides with the general increase in regular wage or salaried jobs. “After stagnating since the 1980s, the share of workers with regular wage or salaried work started increasing in 2004, going from 18% to 25% for men and 10% to 25% for women,” the report said.

The pandemic hit


Between 2004 and 2017, around 3 million regular wage jobs were created annually. From 2017 to 2019, this jumped to 5 million per year until it hit a pre-pandemic hurdle in 2019 due to a slowdown. Then there came the pandemic, which had a devastating effect on the labour market.

Since the 1990s, year-on-year non-farm GDP growth and non-farm employment growth are uncorrelated with each other suggesting that policies promoting faster growth need not promote faster job creation.

“Between 2004 and 2019, on average, growth translated to decent employment. This was interrupted by the pandemic which caused larger growth in distress employment,” the report said.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate is lower than it was pre-Covid across education levels – but the rate of unemployment is still high.

“It remains above 15% for graduates and more worryingly it touches a huge 42% for graduates under 25 years,” the report says.


Caste & gender disparities

The blaring caste and gender disparities in the labour markets are also coming down, even though slowly.

Around 40 years back, workers belonging to scheduled castes were five times those of other castes in waste related work. The same is true for leather related work – where they represented four times the other workers in the sector.

The good news is that it has declined rapidly over time, though it is not completely eliminated as of 2021-22.

In the leather industry, workers of SC/ST castes represent 1.4 times of others as of 2021. In waste management and sewerage, over-representation of SCs decreased to 1.6 times in 2011 before increasing slightly again.

Gender-based earnings disparities have reduced. In 2004, salaried women workers earned 70% of what men earned. By 2017, they earned 76% of what men did. Since then, the gap has remained constant till 2021-22 — showing little movement.