The number of new subscribers joining the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme dropped to its lowest in six months in November 2020. This suggests formal job creation is yet to gather pace despite businesses resuming operations following the lifting of Covid-induced lockdown restrictions.
Only 6.4 lakh new subscribers joined the EPF scheme in November, far lower than 7.7 lakh in October and 11.4 lakh in September, showed the latest monthly payroll data released by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organistaion (EPFO) on Wednesday.
“The dip indicates that business confidence levels are not strong yet,” said XLRI professor KR Shyam Sundar.
In July 2020, 5.7 lakh new subscribers had joined the EPF scheme. The number then went up to 6.8 lakh in July and 7.4 lakh in August. On an average, 9.2 lakh new subscribers joined every month in FY20.
Joining the EPFO is mandatory for organisations having 20 or more workers earning upto Rs 15,000 a month. Low addition of new subscribers typically indicates slow recovery process of business in the formal sector apart from job losses. At the same time, it may also point at potential increase in jobs in the informal category of workers like casual, temporary or contract workers.
The number of subscribers exited earlier but rejoined with the scheme also fell to its lowest in November to 6.3 lakh from 7.1 lakh in July, 7.15 lakh in August, 8.32 lakh in September and 7.64 lakh in October.
At the same time, least number of subscribers exited the scheme in November. The number of such subscribers has, in fact, been on the wane since June. In June, 9.5 lakh subscribers exited the scheme; but the number came down to just 2.61 lakh in November.
Net subscribers’ addition in November also fell to 10.11 lakh from 10.5 lakh in October and 13.31 lakh in September. In July and August, EPFO added 5.8 lakh and 7.3 lakh net subscribers. Overall, EPFO has added around 45.29 lakh net subscribers in the April-November period of the current fiscal.
Age-wise analysis indicates that during November 2020, the age-bracket of 22-25 has registered highest growth in subscriber base with around 2.72 lakh net enrollments. State-wise, Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka continue to remain at the forefront of the employment recovery cycle with adding approximately 53% of the total net payroll addition during the current financial year across all the age groups.
“Category-wise analysis of industry indicates ‘expert services’ category continues to be the best performer by contributing a combined payroll of 23.45 lakh during the current financial year across all age groups. This constitutes approximately 60% of the net new payroll for the top ten industry categories for the same period,” an official statement said.
Gender-wise analysis for November 2020 shows that the share of females in new enrolment has increased from 21.64% in October 2020 to 22.40% in November 2020. Out of total 6.41 lakh net subscribers who joined the EPF scheme in November 2020, 1.43 lakh were female.