Young Indians without Jobs Miss out on Growing Economy

04 June 2023

Recent studies say India is soon to be the most populous country in the world, with about 1.4 billion people.

More than half of India's population is under the age of 30. That means India has hundreds of millions of working-age people.

Financial experts note that the country's economy is growing quickly. However, many young Indians are missing out on the growth because they do not have jobs.

Construction laborers work at under construction residential building in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Construction laborers work at under construction residential building in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Rafiq Nagar is an extremely poor area of Mumbai. About 800,000 people live there in poor conditions. Among them is 23-year-old Nizamudin Abdul Rahim Khan. He struggles to find work. He spends his time playing cricket on the street. Khan said he earns about $122 each month by working as a laborer for home repairs or construction.

Naseem Jafar Ali works for a nonprofit organization in Mumbai. He said Khan is not the only young person who wants to work but cannot find a job.

During the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate in India's cities rose above 20 percent.

While the rate has gone down recently, many full-time jobs have not returned. As a result, more people are doing casual work. That means they are not working full time or every day.

While India's economy is growing, experts say the country will not reach its potential if such large numbers of people struggle to get work.

Radhicka Kapoor studies unemployment for the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. She said people who are officially unemployed are "only the tip of the iceberg." She said a larger problem is underemployment and those who are unemployed but not correctly counted. She called it "disguised unemployment."

Khan said he helps his family with the money he makes. But he wants to be able to do more. He said, "if I get a permanent job, then there will be no problem."

Jayati Ghosh is an economist who is concerned about young people missing out on the country's growth. She said there are a lot of young people whose families spent money on their education. But those people still cannot find work. "That's horrifying," she said. "It's not just the question of potential loss to the economy ... it is a lost generation."

Ghosh said the fall of small businesses has been the biggest problem in India. She called it a "collapse."

Ghosh said recent government policies hurt small businesses, and so did the pandemic. The government said over 10,000 small businesses closed between April 2022 and March 2023. A year earlier, 6,000 such businesses closed.

As a result, many people who would have worked for these small businesses in past years are now on their own. But self-employed people only earn about $178 per month. People working for businesses make about $212 per month.

The problem is more severe in India's major cities. There are 150 million working-age people in cities, but less than half have jobs. In recent years, many young people have come to cities from rural areas in search of work.

Even people who have an education and job experience cannot find work. Arshad Ali Ansari is a 22-year-old student. He lives in the same neighborhood as Khan, the young man who passes time playing cricket. Ansari talked about his brother, who lost his job at a bank during the pandemic. Now he helps his father paint houses. The family of eight lives in a small room. They live on about $240 per month.

"My brother had an education, he had experience," Ansari said. His sister lost her job, too. She was a social worker. She does not think she will find another job.

Pranjul Bhandari is an economist for the banking company HSBC. He recently wrote a report about India's jobs problem. He said the nation will need to create 70 million new jobs over the next 10 years. However, the country is only set to create 24 million new jobs. That, he said, means 46 million people will miss out on earnings.

I'm Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by Reuters.


Words in This Story

construction –n. the work of building things

rate –n. the count of something happening (or not happening) over a period of time

potential –n. a person's or group's ability to become successful

tip of the iceberg –phrase. only the visible part of a deeper problem

disguised –adj. something that is hidden or not easily seen

horrifying –adj. something scary or surprising

collapse –adj. something that fell apart quickly or without warning

social worker –n. a person who helps families and people with problems