By Somesh Jha
Contrary to popular perception, unemployment among Muslims in both rural and urban areas is falling.
According to data released by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) on Friday, the rate declined from 2.3 per cent in 2004-05 to 1.9 per cent in 2009-10 among rural Muslims. The unemployment rate among urban Muslims fell from 4.1 per cent to 3.2 per cent during the five-year period.
India's unemployment rate should not be confused with that of advanced economies'. There is also the issue of "disguised unemployment" (when more people are hired than required, leaving some employees with no work) in sectors such as agriculture, and low employment in certain self-employed categories.
The data are estimated on the basis of a person's main activity as well as his subsidiary engagements. According to the NSSO data, rural Hindus had a stable unemployment rate at 1.5 per cent during the five-year period. All others in rural areas saw a decline. The unemployment rate in villages was the highest among Christians. However, here too, the rate fell from 4.4 per cent in 2004-05 to 3.9 per cent in 2009-10. Among rural Sikhs , the rate declined sharply from 3.5 per cent to 2.4 per cent during this period. The data, calculated on the 66th Round of Survey conducted by the NSSO, is the seventh such data released in the series. The only increase in the unemployment rate was witnessed among urban Sikhs. The community saw the rate rise from 4.6 per cent in 2004-05 to 6.1 per cent in 2009-10.