Mumbai: At a convenient time when the BJP-led NDA government has retained power, the Statistics Ministry on Friday released the official unemployment figure, at 6.1 per cent, a 45-year high in the 12-month period from July 2017 to June 2018.
Earlier this year, a report citing National Sample Survey Office's periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data, the publication of which was withheld, also revealed similar unemployment statistics of 6.1 per cent.
However, chief statistician Pravin Srivastava said, "It's a new design and it's a news metric, so its unfair to compare it from the past data."
"From 2017-18 onwards, you will be getting regular estimates using this as a base," he added.
When asked as to what could this data mean, Srivastava said: "I have no means to do a retrospective analysis."
When asked what caused the delay, officials cited implementation of new technology and methods. This was contrary to the viewpoint of several experts who expressed doubt over the unemployment and growth rate figures, alleging that the government was suppressing uncomfortable data.
The official data showed 7.8 per cent of all employable urban youth as being jobless during the survey period, while the percentage for the rural areas stood at 5.3 per cent.
The unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of persons unemployed in the total labour force. Nearly 10 million youth join the country's workforce every year.
The data pose a huge challenge to the Modi government which has returned to power for a second term. The gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate has plunged to its lowest in the last five years to touch 5.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018-19.
The manufacturing sector, which provides employment to a large number of workers, has also been largely sluggish.