Indian Slowdown Chains Millions to the Farm – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s economic slowdown is changing the future of millions of unskilled workers, chaining them to low-wage farm work.

After a sharp decline during India’s boom years, the number of people working on farms is rising again according to a report this week by Crisil Research.

Between March 2005 and March 2012, the agricultural workforce fell by a whopping 37 million people as faster growth and better paying jobs in industrial and service sectors sucked workers out of the countryside.

While there isn’t a rising need for farmers–India’s farming industry is notoriously inefficient and could produce just as much with fewer people–there aren’t enough new productive jobs for them to move to in India’s cities and small towns.

With the economy slowing over the past two years, the need for former agricultural laborers has tapered. Crisil estimates that the agricultural workforce will grow by 12 million people in the period between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2019.

That’s more people than live in India’s technology capital of Bangalore stuck in their villages in unproductive jobs.

India’s industry and services sectors added 52 million jobs between fiscal 2005 and 2012. In the next seven years, around 25% fewer jobs will be created by the industrial and services sectors, Crisil said, leaving millions unable to find work outside the farm.

Until recently, India was among the world’s fastest-growing economies, with gross domestic product expansion peaking at more than 10%  one quarter. However, rising inflation, a prolonged period of high interest rates and a slow pace of reform have slowed expansion.

via Indian Slowdown Chains Millions to the Farm – India Real Time – WSJ.

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