India Sees Job Losses as Curbs Return to Check New Virus Wave
Workers labor at the welding line on the Innova Crysta compact multi-purpose vehicle production line at the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd. plant in Bidadi, Karnataka. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India Sees Job Losses as Curbs Return to Check New Virus Wave

A fresh round of provincial lockdowns to curb the record rise in virus infections is leading to job losses in India, according to the latest employment data by a private research firm.

Unemployment touched 8.6% for the week ending April 11, from 6.7% two weeks ago, showed the data by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd. The hit is more severe in urban areas where it’s nearing 10% as local media shows images of workers fleeing cities fearing harsher curbs like last year.

Asia’s third-largest economy is potentially on track to regain the second spot from Brazil after adding a record 168,912 cases in a day, taking the tally to 13.53 million cases. It is facing an escalating health crisis with the second wave overwhelming hospitals and forcing states to restrict activities.

India Sees Job Losses as Curbs Return to Check New Virus Wave

While wealthiest Maharashtra, the worst hit by the virus, is contemplating more curbs after announcing a strict weekend lockdown, national capital Delhi, which is operating under a night curfew, has warned of more restrictions if its medical facilities collapse.

The pandemic had led to record job losses in India after a national lockdown last year saw millions of migrants heading back to their villages, many of them walking miles without proper food and water. Some of the jobs came back as the economy reopened and infections surprisingly started receding.

The resurgence of Covid-19 is worsening the outlook again with jobs last month falling at the quickest pace since September 2020, according to a survey of manufacturers by IHS Markit. The central bank’s consumer confidence survey is also showing increasing pessimism on jobs.

Prolonged and widespread night curfews could possibly lead to “another bout of reverse migration,” said Kunal Kundu, an economist with Societe Generale GSC Pvt. in Bengaluru. “Job creation will remain a challenge.”

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