Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Unemployment rate in India (2008 to 2024): Current rate, historical trends and more

What is the current unemployment rate in India? How about the unemployment rate in the last ten years? Let's find out

Published: Feb 19, 2024 09:00:35 AM IST
Updated: Feb 19, 2024 04:36:44 PM IST

Unemployment rate in India (2008 to 2024): Current rate, historical trends and more

Unemployment is a critical issue that continues to challenge the economic landscape of India. As one of the world's most populous nations with a diverse workforce, fluctuations in the unemployment rate have far-reaching implications for the country's growth and development. So, what is the current unemployment rate in India?

The latest data indicates a glimmer of hope, as India's unemployment rate has recently declined. According to the National Sample Survey Survey (NSSO), the unemployment rate for individuals aged 15 years and above in urban areas decreased to 6.8 percent during January-March 2023 from 8.2 percent a year ago. This positive development suggests a potential turnaround in the job market amidst the prevailing economic complexities. However, continued vigilance and effective policy measures remain crucial to foster sustainable job growth and secure the nation's future prosperity.

In this blog, we discuss the current unemployment rate in India a little more in-depth, along with the unemployment rate in the last ten years.

Also Read: What is repo rate, current repo rate, and history of RBI repo rates in India (2000 to 2024)

The Current Unemployment Rate in India:

The unemployment rate witnessed a sharp decrease in January 2024. According to the latest data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent think-tank, the unemployment rate in India stood at 6.8 percent in January. The unemployment rate in India saw a decrease of 1.9 percent in a month, as it stood at 8.7 percent in December last year.

The unemployment rate in January 2024 has been the lowest in the past 16 months. However, unemployment among youth aged between 20 and 30 has registered an increase in the Oct-Dec quarter of 2023. Unemployment in the youth aged between 20 and 24 increased to 44.49 percent, which was 43.65 percent in the July-September quarter. Similarly, unemployment among the youth aged between 25 and 29 increased to 14.33 percent in the Oct-Dec quarter of 2023, which stood at 13.35 percent in the previous quarter.

The recent weather patterns across the country have brought about significant changes in economic conditions. As the rains have covered large parts of India, impacting nearly half of the agricultural land, expectations of higher farm production have risen. This positive development has the potential to contribute to overall economic growth and improve the labour demand in the agriculture sector.

Also Read: 1 USD to INR: From 1947 to 2023

On the other side of this coin is the uptick in Mudra loan disbursements, startup registration and an increased number of tax returns, which suggests a different picture of people choosing to be entrepreneurs and micro-entrepreneurs. The number of people engaged in self-employment, including unpaid household work or running a small business, increased to 57.3 percent in the period under review from 55.8 percent a year ago.

Also Read: GDP of India: Current and historical growth rate, India's rank in the world

These changing trends in labour demand and employment rates call for thoughtful policy measures to address the prevailing economic challenges and ensure sustainable growth in rural and urban areas. It highlights the importance of diversifying economic activities to create more employment opportunities and bolster the country's financial resilience.

Unemployment Rate in India: Historical Data

If you are wondering about the unemployment rate last ten years or 15 years, we have the data in a tidy little chart for you:

Year Unemployment Rate (percent)
2024 6.57 (January 2024)
2023 8.003
2022 7.33
2021 5.98
2020 8.00
2019 5.27
2018 5.33
2017 5.36
2016 5.42
2015 5.44
2014 5.44
2013 5.42
2012 5.41
2011 5.43
2010 5.55
2009 5.54
2008 5.41

Source: CMIE

How is the Current Unemployment Rate Calculated?

The past and current unemployment rate in India is a critical economic indicator expressed as a percentage that varies based on the prevailing economic conditions.

When job opportunities become scarce during economic downturns, unemployment tends to increase. Contrarily, during economic growth and prosperity periods, with many job opportunities available to the public, the unemployment rate is expected to decline.

The formula to calculate the current unemployment rate in India is as follows:

Unemployment Rate = Number of Unemployed Persons / Civilian Labor Force


Unemployment Rate = Number of Unemployed Persons / (Number of Employed Persons + Number of Unemployed Persons)

To be classified as unemployed, an individual must meet specific criteria:

They must be at least 16 years old and available to work full-time in the last four weeks.

They should be actively seeking employment during this period.

Some exceptions include individuals who are temporarily laid off and actively looking to rejoin their previous jobs.

Also Read: Fiscal deficit: Meaning, history in India, causes, current deficit and more

Major Economic Events Impacting the Unemployment Rate in India in the Past

Throughout our economic history, several significant events have significantly impacted the unemployment rate in India.

  1. Global Financial Crisis (2008-2009): The 2008 global financial crisis severely affected India's economy, leading to a slowdown in growth and reduced employment opportunities in various sectors.
  2. Demonetisation (2016): The government's decision to demonetise high-value currency notes in 2016 caused economic disruptions, particularly in the informal sector, resulting in temporary job losses.
  3. Goods and Services Tax (GST) Implementation (2017): The introduction of GST aimed to simplify the tax structure, but it initially caused short-term disruptions in the economy, affecting businesses and employment.
  4. Covid-19 Pandemic (2020): The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures profoundly impacted the Indian economy, resulting in a surge in unemployment as businesses closed and economic activities came to a standstill.
  5. Inflationary Pressures: India has also faced inflationary pressures over the years, influencing the current unemployment rate in India. High inflation rates can erode the purchasing power of consumers, leading to reduced demand for goods and services. This can have a cascading effect on businesses, resulting in cost-cutting measures, including layoffs and hiring freezes, leading to higher unemployment rates.


1. Which is the state with the highest unemployment rate in India? How about the state with the lowest unemployment rate in India?

As of December 2022, Haryana had the highest unemployment rate in India, at 37.4 percent. As for the lowest, data from the same time suggests Odisha is the state with the lowest unemployment rate in India at 0.9 percent.

2. How does the unemployment rate impact the Indian economy?

The unemployment rate impacts the Indian economy by influencing spending, growth, and job opportunities. A high rate hinders economic progress and can lead to social unrest, while a low rate indicates a thriving job market and a growing economy. Policymakers use it to inform strategies for job creation and economic development.