The demand for jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MG-NREGS), both at the household as well as the individual level, continued to remain elevated compared with the pre-pandemic days, indicating strain on rural livelihoods.
The MG-NREGS dashboard, maintained by the rural development ministry, showed nearly 31.7 million households and 43.2 million persons were looking for work in June this year, higher from 25.4 million and 35.3 million respectively, over the same month in 2019-20, the year before the pandemic hit the country.
During the same month in FY21 and FY22, there were higher demand for work from both households and individuals compared with June FY23, but those were the years which saw huge reverse migration that led to the spike in demand for job under the rural job guarantee scheme.
Commenting on the elevated demand, labour economist KR Shyam Sundar said, “The spike in the demand for work under MG-NREGS in the recent quarter shows that rural labour market in in distress. Further demand would depend on farm employment and early monsoon deficit witnessed unless reversed will lead to further spikes in MG-NREGS jobs.”
MG-NREGS is a demand-driven scheme for the enhancement of livelihood security of the households in rural areas by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work in every financial year. A little less than 0.1 million household has completed 100 days of work so far in the current fiscal.
Person days of work generation under the scheme in June was 261 million, which of course is subject to upward revision, since data collation takes time. Overall, as on July 1, a little over 982-million person days of work has been created in the current fiscal so far. In the entire FY22, 3.63-billion person days of work was generated under MG-NREGS.
The government has allocated Rs 73,000 crore in the Budget for 2022-23 for MG-NREGS. In FY22, a little over Rs 1 trillion was spent under the scheme.