In terms of mortality, India seems to have escaped Covid-19 relatively lightly. Jobs are a different story altogether.

A recent survey found that 9% of those in the top socioeconomic quintile had lost their jobs since the outbreak. Add trade struggles with China and a flagging economy; the Indian job market does not paint a pretty picture in 2021, nor does it look like a recovery is on the way anytime soon.

For those in the bottom quintile, the figure was a whopping 47%. Women have been hit particularly hard, with 89% saying their work has been adversely affected in the last 12 months. Men are eight times more likely to have found another job. Why is this? Women tend to have lower-paid, more precarious jobs to begin with – many were teachers and were fired during mandatory closures; others have had to stop working to care for children. However, the pandemic has only exacerbated pre-existing trends.

The female participation rate fell from 26% in 2010 to less than 19% in 2019. By the end of 2020, it had sunk to 6.9%. As a result, India’s workforce has failed to grow. It would be 600 million, not 400 million, were the labour participation rate the same as China’s.

Meanwhile, 77% of the workforce is self-employed or casual labour. Lower tax and interest rates were supposed to boost investment and hiring. Instead, firms trimmed payrolls and boosted dividends as profits rose. Quite simply, the terms of trade have turned against the people of India.

Kris Paterson is a writer for the global job search engine