The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workforce of India

The above figure shows the rate at which unemployment rose in India from January 2020. With a jump of about 6.6% to the maximum of 26.2%, the Coronavirus gave a massive blow to the workforce of India. This was due to many factors that are discussed in detail below under the headings of various classes of the Indian workforce.

Large scale businesses: Businesses that exported finished products and imported raw materials took a heavy hit. Businesses especially the engineering ones, pouty and meat product exporters suffered a loss in export in the range between 40 to 70% in March 2020 and this continues somewhat similarly with only little improvements. Imports also reduced as other countries also faced the same problems at the source and also because there was no business at the local level so there was hardly any surplus fund to import raw materials.

Small to micro-scale businesses: Household income fell by 46% because many companies laid off their employees or cut the salaries by 50% or so thus reducing the demand. This hugely affected the local small and micro-scale businesses that were running in the neighbourhoods such as boutiques, clothing stores, food markets and restaurants, supermarkets, etc. These shops and stores also laid off the additional labours and kept only the necessary ones or involved the family members. Many of these completely shut down as well.

Salaried employees/corporates: Product based companies, service providers and other offices in every industry lost business on large scale due to zero public movement or tourist visits because of the lockdowns low income and the newly acquired saving and finally sticking to it attitude of the people. Many were laid off, many faced salary cuts and most continued work from home. Although this sounds easy and simple that one has to work from the comfort of their home but this allowed companies to exploit the so-called comfort and loaded enormous amount of work on the employees, of course, someone has to do the job of the ones laid off. Anyways, this soon became the trend and companies started hiring people again and they do not have to come to the office and would do more work any time of the day as well. So, this was hard for employees but almost a win-win for everyone.

Government service: People working in the government sector or under the government were perhaps the safest and enjoyed good job security. Although there were pay cuts and stoppage of EPF and other funds and a reduction in the rate of some funds still, the households of well-established and well-paid even middle-class government employees saw only a minor change of spending habits.

Lower economic strata: Those who lived on the hand to mouth basis suffered the most due to the novel pandemic. Lower economic businesses and sellers such as local retailers, vendors, housemaids got the real brutal hit from the lockdowns, the reduced income of the buyers and the lockdowns. People started doing household chores on their own, deduced new methods of minimising wastage and put a strict check on free usage of groceries such as soaps, detergents, oil, etc.

The above content presents a pathetic overview of the COVID situation and its effect on the workforce of India. The scenario is now getting better and better as the cases have reduced and people are learning to live with the virus.

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