Social Scientist. v 6, no. 66-67 (Jan-Feb 1978) p. 109.


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Unemployment in West Bengal

THE employment situation in West Bengal has been deteriorating in recent years due to the recession in the industrial sector and a low rate of absorption of the labour force into other sectors. In fact West Bengal reflects in accentuated form some of the characteristics typical of the country as a whole. The State with its large concentration of industries has also a larger agrioultural hinterland. Being a part of the deltaic region it has an abundant supply of water and fertile soih Yet the State finds its labour force too large to be absorbed by her productive sectors. The objective of this note is to analyse the features of unemployment in the State and discuss a possible strategy for generation of employment on a reasonable scale.

A satisfactory measure of the extent of unemployment in the State is hard to come by. Experts differ about what may be considered a suitable definition of unemployment for a developing country* Lookitig actively for work, which is considered to be an important element of the definition, is not a common feature in the slack seasons in our countryside. It is not widespread even in the urban areas of a stagnant economy, Then there is the problem of the period of reference, ^notmth, week or year] and the usual status for which such assessment is made. Each throws up a different measure of unemployment* It is not siaiprismg therefore that two different agenda Kke the .National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) and the Bureau of AppHcd Economics and JStatis* tics (BAES) provide different estimates of unemployment fcoc to fixate. The Bureau conducted a. survey on unemployment inL Weal; Bengal between December 1970 and No^erabeff 1WL TIfafettwjm ployed were defined as persons having no full time employment for the purpose of the survey. The NSSO carried out the 27th round of their survey between October 1972 and September 1973. Information on unemployment collected during the survey were based on the usual status of the persons. The figures for the unemployed and their percentages to the 1971 Census population are shown in the table below.



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