Migrant workers India
The surge in unemployment signals sustained risks to India's economy, which is expected to post the world's fastest growth in the year ending March 31. Image Credit: AP

India’s unemployment rate rose to a four-month high in December as some states imposed fresh virus curbs to staunch surging case numbers.

The jobless rate increased to 7.91 per cent last month, from 7 per cent in November, rising in both urban and rural areas, according to the data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt., a private research firm.

The surge in unemployment signals sustained risks to India’s economy, which is expected to post the world’s fastest growth in the year ending March 31. Official estimates due Friday are expected to forecast an expansion of 9.5 per cent, compared with a 7.3 per cent contraction last year as the government enforced strict restrictions to contain the pandemic.

India added 33,750 new COVID-19 cases on Monday - the highest single day figure in more than three months - pushing the total confirmed tally to 34.9 million infections. National capital New Delhi has closed cinemas, schools and gyms and introduced restrictions on public gathering, and states such as West Bengal and Haryana have imposed similar curbs. Maharashtra, which is the state of financial hub Mumbai, has also put restrictions on the number of people at gatherings.

Globally, the youth have found themselves shut out of the labor market, and the consequences of the pandemic are seen lingering for years to come. In India, where about one million people enter the job market every month, although economic growth has rebounded from the depths of the crisis, unemployment has stayed well above 6 per cent.

Survey-based unemployment data from the CMIE is among the most widely used by economists and researchers as India lacks reliable, nationwide official job figures, a situation the government aims to remedy as soon as next fiscal year.