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Jobs elusive as India clings to fastest-growing economy tag

Source | MSN

It’s been two years since India emerged as the world’s fastest-growing major economy, but the rapid expansion has done little to improve the lot of Ashok Kumar.

Parked up and sitting on the kerb, the 25-year-old truck driver is going nowhere fast. He is the sole breadwinner for the 13 people in his extended family and his monthly salary is stuck at $150.

With new, better-paid jobs hard to come by, Kumar lacks options. He fears becoming unemployed like his elder brother, who recently returned to their village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after months of searching in vain for work.

Data out on Wednesday showed India’s economic growth slowed to 7.1 percent in the quarter to June, a 15-month low. That is faster than other major economies, but not fast enough to create enough new jobs to absorb all the one million people who join the workforce every month.

A government survey found that job creation fell by more than two-thirds in 2015. Analysts at HDFC Bank estimate that for every percentage point the economy grows, employment now adds just 0.15 of a percentage point – down from 0.39 in 2000.

It’s a major challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised to create 250 million jobs over the next decade.

“For one job, there are at least 20 candidates,” said Kumar. “If you want the job, you can’t afford to bargain.”

Nearly two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people are under 35 years old. This rising demographic “bulge” will create the largest working-age population in the world. At the same time China, which has long curbed family size, will age as a society.

Whether this so-called demographic dividend will translate into the kind of economic gains seen in Japan and Korea, or lead to upheavals, depends on India’s ability to generate jobs.

Yet, despite average annual growth of 6.5 percent between 1991 and 2013, India added less than half the jobs needed to absorb new job seekers.

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