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8 Employment Indicators in CPHS

by Vijeta Kumar

One of the reasons why the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS) gained popularity is because of CMIE’s deployment of its employment data. Mahesh Vyas has been writing about this by utilising just one indicator from CPHS - the employment status of members. This on-going commentary on the labour markets in India based on just one employment indicator is testimony to the potential of a fast-frequency large all-India household survey. This is particularly true because CPHS has more information than just the employment status of individuals.

There are eight indicators relating to employment in CPHS. These are a part of a total of over 600 indicators. CPHS, therefore, is a lot more than just an employment/unemployment survey. Lets understand the eight indicators that are directly linked to the employment conditions in India.

Employment Status (80) indicates whether a member of a household who is 15 years of age or more is employed or not employed as of the date of the survey. In the field, the first question posed to the respondent is whether the subject is employed. The criterion for classifying a person as employed is that s/he should be working for a better part of the day of the survey for pay or for profit. People who have regular jobs have no hesitation in saying Yes to this question. Others who run an enterprise, however small, are also quite clear on their status that they are employed. Self-employed need help because some of them are self-employed because they are unable to find a regular job. So, they feel unemployed while they are employed. We classify them as employed. People working on farms or on family enterprises (including part-time) are also classified as employed.

The unemployed status is nuanced. A person is classified as unemployed, as is the norm, only if the person is willing to work and yet, does not have any employment. But, CPHS distinguishes between the unemployed who are willing to work and actively looking for a job and those who are willing to work but are not actively looking for a job. Data shows that the difference in the two is significant. The rest are classified as Unemployed, unwilling to work.

It is useful to understand the duration that a person spends in a status. For example, a 40-year person who has been employed for say the past 15 years is probably well on a path to building a stable career but, if such a person were to be working only for the past say one year then it indicates some stress. Similarly, if an unemployed person has remained unemployed for multiple months or years it indicates severe stress. On the other hand if a 40-year old person has remained unemployed, not willing and not looking for employment then we know the person has decided to remain out of the labour force. The duration of the employment (or unemployment) status is captured as:

1. Employment status in years (81)

2. Employment status in months (82). This is months in excess of years.

3. Employment status since days (83). This is days in excess of months and years.

The survey also collects information on three other characteristics that encapsulate the nature of employment of employed members of the sample households.:

1. Type of employment (84); distinguishes between full-time and part-time employment.

2. Employment arrangement (85); provides information on whether the employment is in the form of a permanent salaried job, a temporary salaried job, a self-employment arrangement, or of a daily wage worker. This classification provides a sense of the degree of job security in employment. In general, a permanent salaried job is more secure than a temporary salaried job which in turn is more secure than self-employment. And the employment arrangement of the daily wage earner is the least secure.

3. Place of work (86); gives a sense of the nature of work. For example, working in an office is different from working in a factory, warehouse, or the market. Some may not have a fixed physical place of work such as delivery boys or cab drivers. Places of work are categorised as follows:

1. Own farm

2. Other’s farm

3. Bhagidari farm

4. Within home/other’s home

5. Own-establishment/shops/vehicle

6. Other’s-establishment/shops/vehicles

7. Marketplace

8. Company - retail outlet

9. Company - factory

10. Company - office

11. Company - warehouse

12. Company - laboratory

13. Company - others

14. NGO/temple/trust

15. Government

16. Not Applicable’, or Data Not Available

Earlier, we explained that CPHS captures the time that a person has spent in her last status. Now, we extend this time-related data to a related indicator. This is about the time that a person who is not in the labour force would take to come into the labour force. This can give us an idea of the expected labour supply in the near future.

The concerned indicator is titled Time to start working for out-of-labour-force member (87). It provides information on the time it would take a person who is of 15 years or more but who is not in the labour force (i.e. neither employed nor unemployed and looking for a job) to join the labour force.


Serial number of the indicator. For the full list visit: CPdx