The world’s biggest democracy faces a crisis. India’s economy cannot provide enough jobs for job seekers. A higher rate of youth unemployment in India might lead to a scarcity of goods and services offered by the country.
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) recently released the unemployment status report of India for December 2021. According to the report, the unemployment rate in the country was 7.91% in December. It was 7% in November. The highest unemployment rates were reported in Haryana (34.1%), Rajasthan (24.1), Jharkhand (17.3%), Bihar (16%), and Jammu and Kashmir (15%).
On the other hand, states such as Karnataka (1.4%), Gujarat and Odisha (1.6%), and Chhattisgarh (2.1%) reported the lowest unemployment rates in India. High unemployment rates can be attributed to delayed economic recovery, a surplus of labour, and a slow agricultural season.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the labour market worldwide, causing many individuals to lose their jobs and businesses to close. The CMIE also reported that the unemployment rate for the urban areas increased from 8.21% to 9.3% and from 6.44% to 7.28% for the rural areas.
Imposed restrictions could explain these statistics because of the rising Omicron cases since December 2021. Many services, such as schools, gyms, and movie theatres, were temporarily shut down in various states. This significantly impacted economic activity and contributed to a rise in the unemployment rate.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic can be only partly blamed. Since the unemployment rate is one of the key indicators used to assess the health of a country’s economy, the report also indicated that India’s current economic situation could not provide enough jobs for job seekers.
While a single unemployed person has minimal influence on society, high unemployment rates in some states may sometimes contribute to increased poverty rates and poorer neighbourhoods, exacerbating the socioeconomic impact of unemployment. These regions with high unemployment rates are more likely to have restricted career opportunities, inadequate housing, fewer recreational activities accessible, as well as limited access to public services and underfunded schools.
With more people being unemployed, more individuals earn less income. Thus, they will spend less money, resulting in decreased economic contribution in terms of services and products supplied and produced. In other words, unemployed individuals have reduced purchasing power, leading to additional employment losses for goods’ suppliers. Consequently, a higher unemployment rate might lead to a scarcity of goods and services offered in India.
Research has found that youth unemployment harms mental health through higher worry, frustration, disappointment, alienation, and sadness. And the effect persists in adulthood, regardless of future employment. Unemployment can reduce the self-esteem of young individuals, contributing to worry and self-doubt. To develop a healthy personality and emotional skills, young people should trust that they enrich themselves by contributing to their family and community. Unfortunately, unemployment can cause a decline in social standing among friends, family, and society at large, decreasing self-esteem.
Consequently, jobless people may get the feeling of helplessness. Besides, when someone thinks they have little control over significant life events, such as finding a fulfilling job, they experience ‘helplessness’. Prolonged feelings of helplessness resulting from unemployment could lead to depression.
Research has found that a rise in unemployment also leads to increased suicide rates in all parts of the world. Young people with more significant financial obligations, those with the highest education, or a higher feeling of self-efficacy established by earlier accomplishment in various circumstances, including school and job, are more likely to have lower mental health. They are likely to be more sensitive to the damaging mental effects of unemployment.
While there is not much extensive research on the effects of unemployment on physical health, there is some evidence of a link between high blood pressure and young unemployed individuals. A five-year prospective study of school leavers found that those who were jobless for a more extended period had a considerably more significant rise in systolic blood pressure compared to young males with short-term jobs or no jobs during the research period. However, these differences did not exist in females.
Furthermore, a longitudinal study of Irish youth found that unemployed males had lower mean body fat than those employed. The same results were not found for unemployed females. This could be explained to have occurred due to poverty and malnourishment due to being jobless. The same study also found that unemployed young women had considerably worse respiratory function than those employed. The possible reason is that jobless women are prone to smoking due to unemployment, contributing to their lower lung function. Additionally, an extensive study has found that youth unemployment is associated with increased smoking and alcohol intake.
Since unemployment may negatively influence a person’s physical and mental health, the Indian government may be forced to spend enormous resources on job creation and healthcare.