Labour market flows and gender differentials in urban unemployment over the pandemic

Azim Premji University,


Utilising data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey, the researchers estimate quarterly changes in urban labour market flow over the period 2018 to 2022 and the impact on unemployment rates for men and women. Their analysis provides non-intuitive explanations for established findings as well as points out important questions for further study. Both men’s and women’s unemployment rates have reduced in 2022 compared to 2018, showing rapid reductions following the high levels reached during the lockdown. Women’s unemployment rates have consistently been higher than men’s throughout this period. The gap between men’s and women’s unemployment rates reduced during the lockdown, but has shown signs of increasing since 2021, even as unemployment rates have fallen. For women, flows from the labour force to non-participation play a larger role in explaining changes in unemployment rates as compared to men. Flows from the labour force to non-participation, however, have reduced since the pandemic, providing an explanation as to why labour force participation rates have increased, namely, women staying for longer in the labour force rather than more women entering it. Despite rising labour force participation rates, the gender gap in unemployment rates has risen, in contrast to developed economies.