Employment, Government of India, India, Stories

Data: Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) for first quarter of 2021-22 reveals varying trends across sectors


The government recently released the results of the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) for April to June 2021. Among other things, the report reveals varying trends across sectors with the IT/BPO sectors leading the growth chart while Trade & hospitality sectors reporting a decline. Here are the details.

Labour and Employment statistics are collected, compiled, and disseminated by several agencies in India, like the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), State governments through the Department of Labour & the Directorate of Economic & Statistics. Certain private agencies like the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) also collate data related to employment. 

The household-based employment surveys (like PLFS by MoSPI) provide employment scenarios for the supply-side of the labour market. One of our previous articles highlights the major employment and unemployment trends revealed in the latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report 2019-20 by geography, gender, and approach.

To provide a consolidated picture of the employment scenario for the demand-side of labour market, establishment-based economic census and sample surveys are required. For instance, India’s Economic Census enumerated all establishments engaged in various agricultural and non-agricultural activities excluding crop production, plantation, public administration, defence, and compulsory social security.

The Labour Bureau has been entrusted with conducting the All-India Quarterly establishment-based Employment Survey (AQEES), which has two components namely Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) in respect of establishments employing 10 or more workers (mostly constituting organised sector) and Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES) to build up a frame in respect of establishments (mostly in the unorganised sector) employing 9 or fewer workers.

1st Employment Survey (QES): Methodology and Limitations

The present Employment Survey (QES) (April to June 2021) is the first in the series that provides estimates of employment, vacancies, training, and other related parameters for selected 9 sectors of the non-farm economy over successive quarters. The Survey aims to provide insights into relative change in the employment situation over successive quarters in the above segments of the Indian Economy.

The scope of the present QES is limited only to establishments having 10 or more workers (organised sector) as identified by the Sixth Economic Census (2013-14). Further, the survey covers employment in select 9 sectors in the non-farm economy i.e., Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education, Health, Accommodation & Restaurants, Information Technology (IT) & Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), and Financial Services.

Some other notable limitations about the present QES survey are as follows:

  • The list of establishments, as appearing in the Directory of Establishments in the above mentioned 9 sectors in the Sixth Economic Census, was used as the sampling frame for the present QES survey. The aforesaid 9 sectors account for around 85% of the total employment in units with 10 or more workers in the Sixth Economic Survey.
  • QES does not capture employment data from units that emerged/were established after the 6th Economic Census in 2013-14.
  • The survey is based on either records or responses of the establishments. However, verification of records has not been reported for the collection of data.
  • The survey work for the 1st quarter of QES corresponded with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the data collection was mainly carried out telephonically and through visits by investigators wherever possible.

High Proprietary ownership, closely followed by Private Ltd. company and Govt./PSU ownership

In the present round of QES, information was collected from 10,593 units in the select 9 sectors throughout the country. The distribution of the collected sample in terms of sector and coverage is illustrated in the chart below.

The highest number of establishments were in the Education sector, closely followed by the manufacturing sector. In terms of sample allocation, the highest number of sample establishments were allotted to Manufacturing, followed by Trade and Education.

In terms of ownership, the estimated establishments in the survey show the following distribution trend.

Around 29% of the estimated units were under Proprietary ownership, followed by Private Limited Company at 24.8% and Government/Public Sector Units (PSUs) at 20.9%.

The survey further highlights that, within Proprietary ownership, the maximum number of establishments (61.4%) were found to be in Accommodation & Restaurants, followed by 47% in the Trade sector. In the case of Private Limited Company, the highest numbers of estimated units (83.7%) were found to be in the IT/BPOs sector, followed by the Construction sector (56.3%).

Within Government/PSU ownership, the highest number of estimated units were reported in the financial service sector (54.2%), followed by Education (42.7%).

Overall employment improves; Growth in all sectors expect Trade, and Accommodation & Restaurant

The total employment in the 9 select sectors from 1st QES (April to June 2021) stands at 3 crores 8 lakhs, against 2 crores 37 lakhs for these sectors as reported by the Sixth Economic Census (2013-14), implying a growth of 29%.

Of the total employment estimated in the select 9 sectors, Manufacturing accounts for nearly 41%, followed by Education with 22%, and Health with 8%, Trade and IT/BPO with 7% of the total estimated number of workers.

The most impressive growth of 152% has been recorded in the IT/BPO sector, while growth rates in Health 77%, Financial Services 48%, Education 39%, Manufacturing 22%, Transport 68%, and Construction 42% were also quite significant. However, employment in Trade came down by 25% and in Accommodation & Restaurant by 13%.

Percentage of female workers declines

The overall percentage of female workers stands at 29%, slightly lower than 31% reported during Sixth Economic Census (2013-14).

Regular workers constitute 88% of the estimated workforce in the 9 select sectors, with only 2% being casual workers. However, the survey further highlights that about 18% of workers in the Construction sector are contractual employees and 13% are casual workers.

With respect to educational qualifications of employees, around 31% of the workers in 7 out of 9 sectors (excluding Education and Health) were matriculates/secondary or less educated, while another 31% were graduates or had higher qualifications. The percentage of graduates and above is as high as 70% in the IT/BPO sector and 59% in Financial Services. In the Health sector, only 22% of the non-clinical workers were matriculated and the figure was 15% in the Education sector. More than two-thirds of the employees in Education and Health were graduates or higher.

With respect to the size of establishments, nearly 90% of the establishments have been estimated to work with less than 100 workers, though 34.8% of the IT/BPO establishments and 18% of Health establishments had 100 or more workers. In the Sixth Economic Census (2013-14), about 95% of the establishments were reported to be working with 100 or fewer workers.

Employment decreases in 27% establishments due to COVID-19

The survey also assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment in the organised non-farm segment. Overall, employment decreased due to the pandemic in 27% of the establishments.

On an encouraging note, about 81% of the workers received full wages during the lock-down period (25 March – 30 June 2020). About 16% received reduced wages and 3% were denied any wage. In the Health and Financial Services sector, more than 90% of workers received full wages. In the Construction sector, however, 27% of workers had to accept reduced wages and 7% did not receive any wage.


About Author

Aprajita is driven by her ardent interest in a wide array of unrelated subjects - from public policy to folk music to existential humour. As part of her interdisciplinary education, she has engaged with theoretical ideas as well as field-based practices. By working with government agencies and non-profit organisations on governance and community development projects, she has lived and learned in different parts of the country, and aspires to do the same for the rest of her life.

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