New Delhi:

Net new enrolments with retirement fund body EPFO grew 27.79 per cent to 13.36 lakh in January compared to the same month in 2020, according to the payroll data released on Saturday, providing a perspective on formal sector employment amid the pandemic.

"The provisional payroll data of EPFO published on 20th March, 2021 highlights a growing trend of subscriber base with the addition of 13.36 lakh net subscribers during January 2021," a labour ministry statement said.

It stated that the data reflects growth of 24 per cent for January 2021 over December last year.

"Year-on-year comparison of payroll data indicates an increase of 27.79 per cent in net subscribers as compared to the corresponding period last year (January 2020), indicating return to the pre-COVID levels of subscriber growth for EPFO," it said.

Despite the pandemic, EPFO added around 62.49 lakh subscribers during the first tens month of the ongoing fiscal year, the data showed.

During 2019-20, the number of net new subscribers rose to 78.58 lakh as compared to 61.12 lakh in the preceding fiscal.

The number of net enrolments with the body was revised downwards to 10.81 lakh for December 2020 from earlier provisional estimates of 12.53 lakh for the month released in February 2021.

Since April 2018, EPFO has been releasing payroll data covering the period September 2017 onwards.

According to the latest data, net new enrolments in April were in the negative zone at (-) 2,55,559 against the figure of (-) 2,35,911 released in February. This means that the number of members who exited the EPFO subscription was more than those who joined or rejoined the scheme.

In July, provisional showed that net new enrolments for April stood at 1 lakh, which was revised down to 20,164 in August and further lowered to (-) 61,807 in September, (-) 1,04,608 in October, (-)1,49,248 in November, (-) 1,79,685 in December 2020 and (-) 2,11,073 released in January 2021.

The number of net new enrolments in May was also revised downwards to (-) 2,47,991 from (-) 2,19,810 estimated last month and from (-) 1,86,659 estimated in January 2021 and from (-)1,43,540 estimated in December 2020.

As per the data, the net new enrolments for June 2020 were also revised to 1,65,607 from 1,90,411 for the month released in February 2021.

The net new enrolments for July 2020 were also revised downwards to 5,35,720 from 5,55,254 for the month released in February 2021.For August it was revised to 6,67,325 from 6,91,921.

The net new enrolments for September 2020 were also revised to 12,60,877 from 12,90,673 for the month released in February 2021. For October, it was revised to 9,34,574 from 9,73,452.

The net new enrolments for November 2020 were also revised downwards to 7,71,546 from 8,70,097.

The statement said that of the 13.36 lakh net subscribers added during the month of January 2021, around 8.20 lakh new members will receive the benefit of EPFO's social security schemes for the first time.

Around 5.16 lakh net subscribers exited and then rejoined EPFO indicating switching of jobs by the subscribers within the establishments covered by EPFO and subscribers choosing to retain membership by transferring funds rather than opting for final settlement, it added.

Net payroll addition data reflects that the number of members exiting EPFO has been declining continuously after the peaking in June 2020, during the current financial year.

This trend indicates that the adverse impact of COVID- 19 on members' exit from EPFO has gradually dissipated, it added.

The data of exited members is based on the claims submitted by the individuals/establishments and the exit data uploaded by employers, whereas number of new subscribers is based on the Universal Account Number (UAN) generated in the system and have received non-zero subscription, it said.

Age-wise analysis indicates that during January 2021, the age-bracket of 22-25 registered substantial growth in subscriber base with around 3.48 lakh net enrolments, it said.

This age-group may be considered as freshers in the job market. This is followed by age-bracket of 29-35 with around 2.69 lakh net enrolments, which can be seen as experienced workers who changed jobs for career growth and opted to be with EPFO.

Category-wise analysis of industry reflects healthy growth as compared with the previous months. The expert services' category still tops in volume terms with 5.65 lakh net payroll addition during January 2021.

Among top 10 industry classification, Computer and IT services category along with Electrical, Mechanical or General Engineering Products category registered highest month-on-month growth of around 40 per cent as compared to previous month with 42,205 and 77,392 net additions for January 2021, respectively.

This was followed by Trading & Commercial establishments category with 82,238 net payroll additions registering 27 per cent growth as compared to previous month.

Pan India comparison shows that Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are in forefront of net payroll addition by adding 34.24 lakh net subscribers out of 62.49 lakh cumulative net subscribers added during the current financial year (from April to January ), across all age-groups.

Gender-wise analysis shows that 2.61 lakh net female subscribers were added in the month of January 2021 showing an increase of approximately 30 per cent over the previous month. EPFO manages social security funds of workers in the organised/semi-organised sector in India.