Article by Diksha Bansal  from Economics Wing, GAEE JMI

Pandemics cause significant disruptions in a functioning society. Following the coronavirus, the Indian government implemented a Janta curfew on March 22, 2020, followed by a nationwide lockdown in late March to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

Since then, nothing has been the same. The government gradually removed the restrictions. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, nearly all sectors of the economy have suffered as domestic demand and exports have plummeted sharply.

Most economic activities were halted, except for those related to essential goods and services, resulting in the job loss of millions of people across the country, particularly young workers. The pandemic has also wreaked havoc on the Indian and global labour markets.

Impact on Youth Unemployment


                                               “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.”

                                                                          ~ Nelson Mandela


Youth plays a very crucial role in society. Young workers were particularly hard hit in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown.

India’s youth account for more than one-fifth of the country’s 1.3 billion people. They have borne the brunt of job losses. The unemployment rate was high before the pandemic started. The pandemic exacerbated job losses in low- and middle-income countries such as India.

Statistics show that young people were left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic in far greater numbers than adults. Furthermore, young women have been found to be more likely than young men to be unemployed as a result of the coronavirus disruption.

According to CMIE-CPGH data, a drop in the employment rate during the 2020 lockdown disproportionately impacted young people. According to the CMIE, nearly 30 million people aged 20-29 were unemployed and looking for work in 2021, accounting for 85% of India’s total unemployed.

Globally, youth employment fell by 8.7% in 2020, compared to 3.7% for adults in 2020. This difference highlights the economic consequences of the pandemic for younger people.

Research has found that youth unemployment harms a person’s mental health by increasing levels of worry, disappointment, frustration, self-esteem, alienation, and sadness. This effect lasts into adulthood, regardless of future employment, and impacts a person’s career and work efficiency. Long-term feelings of vulnerability caused by unemployment may impact one’s well-being.

COVID-19 affects young people in the labour market in a variety of ways. Among them are:

  1. Young people are over-represented in the industries and sectors most affected by the crisis (manufacturing, tourism, hospitality, and so on).
  2. Young people appear to be more likely to work on temporary contracts, making them more vulnerable to job loss.
  3. Young people have fewer company-specific skills and knowledge and are frequently the first to be laid off.
  4. Many businesses have been hesitant to hire young people when the economy is weak, and profits are low.

Impact on Young Women

Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, as opposed to men. Women have suffered various consequences due to the pandemic, including decreased income, wage inequality, increased domestic and caring responsibilities, and job loss. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more women out of work and into poverty.

Data from the Centre for Monitoring India Economy (CMIE) and the Center for Economic Data and Analysis show that nearly 4.5 million fewer men and 3 million fewer women worked in 2020-21 than in 2019-20.

Furthermore, younger people find it difficult to recover from job losses during the first lockdown. As a result, a sizable proportion of the young labour force has left the labour force and returned to education.

Policy priorities to help aid recovery

Addressing the issues that young people face is critical. Active labour market programs (hiring subsidies), employment services, financial support, benefits, welfare, income support, apprenticeship schemes, and other policy and political responses are required for an integrated and multi-level policy design and implementation.

Specific measures should be implemented to assist severely impacted labour market sectors. This support for these industries is critical for preserving young people’s current and future job opportunities.

Article Summary:

This article explores the adverse effects of the pandemic on all sectors of the economy. It articulates precisely the impact of pandemics and the lockdown on emerging youth. The article further discusses the youth’s impact on employment and women’s job losses. Lastly, the article emphasises the importance of policies that should be put in place to assist this vulnerable and unemployed age group.

Diksha Bansal is a B.A.(Hons.) Economics student at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, and a part GAEE JMI, an autonomous branch of Global Association of Economics Education in India. The views expressed are personal and they do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of GAEE or its members.

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