Job creation in India is expected to slow down further after growing at the slowest pace in three months in January as the Covid-19 pandemic forces businesses to temporarily close their operations.

At least 750,441 people joined the formal workforce in January, the government payroll data released on Wednesday showed. It was the lowest monthly addition in this financial year so far except in October when the payroll additions were fewer than January as recorded by the government through its retirement fund body Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). A total of 715,590 people joined the workforce in October.

Sluggish economic growth is affecting the jobs scenario. This will likely worsen in the coming months, especially in February and March with India in a lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19, impacting businesses and employees across sectors.

In December, a total of 843,263 people joined the workforce; in November, it was 956,887 people.

According to the EPFO database, of the total payroll additions, around 396,541 are in the 18-25 age group, which is almost 54,000 less than the December additions for this group of job seekers. The 18-25 age group is significant as it is considered to involve fresh job seekers. In January, while 214,491 were in the 26-35 age group, 134,040 were above 35. The remaining 5,369 people were below the age of 18.

To be sure, payroll data of most recent months may be slightly revised due to data collection and tabulation delays in some sectors. A slowing economy has hampered job creation in recent months. Both private and government surveys have emphasised the slowing down of employment generation.

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