Job loss is the most severe immediate impact of COVID-19 crisis while lower economic growth and rise in inequality would be the long-term effects, according to a survey by the Indian Society of Labour Economics (ISLE). The online survey was conducted on 520 ISLE members in the last week of May.


The preliminary results showed that loss of employment was considered as the most severe immediate impact of the crisis while lower economic growth and rise in inequality were probable long-term impact.


As per the survey, the immediate policy priorities suggested were protection of workers and families, short-term employment creation and income transfers to affected workers.


Short-term policy requirements were support to MSMEs, expansion of MGNREGA, job creation, cash transfers and social security while the long-term measures included need for building a stronger public health system, universalisation of social security and policies for welfare and rights of migrants.


The survey was discussed at a two-day virtual international conference on "Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis for Labour and Employment in India: Impact, Strategies, and Perspectives" on June 8-9.


The conference was organised by the Institute for Human Development (IHD), International Labour Organization (ILO) and ISLE.


“The lessons from other countries suggest that active labour market policies including cash transfers and wage subsidy to small enterprises can be effective in mitigating the adverse impact of COVID 19 on livelihoods and employment of those worse affected in India," Alakh N Sharma, Director, IHD said during the conference.


Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO Decent Work Team for South Asia and India, said there is a need to prioritise work for all and fault-lines need to be addressed for better outcomes.


The takeaway from the conference was that overall, there has been about 25 per cent decline in total GDP with the industrial sector (especially MSMEs) highly disrupted and down by 54 per cent.


Without any stimulus the economy might have declined by 12.4 per cent, the participants noted.


Estimates of job loss showed that 80 per cent  jobs were affected in urban economy, most of which were self-employed, 54 per cent  jobs were affected in rural economy, most of which were casual employment, they said.


The government had imposed lockdown on March 25, 2020 to fight COVID-19.