When India Googled ‘Jobs Near Me’

The usage of the phrase ‘jobs near me’ seems to have surged in India since 2016. Between 2004 to 2014, the phrase didn’t attract as many users– this changed when it was increasingly used in Google searches throughout 2017, and reached a relative value of 88 in April 2018, peaking in popularity in July 2018. A major reason for this definitely lies in the growing usage of the Internet within the same time frame, as most of the users who have searched this phrase have been smartphone users. As prominent as this reason might seem to be for the increased usage of this phrase on search engines, it is important to ask if this is being determined by some other factors as well.

A potential reason for the rise in the usage of this phrase could be the deteriorating condition of the status of employment in the country. State of Working India 2018– a new study released by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment, indicated that the current ratio of GDP growth to employment growth falls below 0.1. Likewise, an increase of 5% has been noted in unemployment. Further the “study uses government data to show that total employment actually shrank by seven million between 2013 and 2015, and cites private data to posit that an absolute decline has continued in the years since.” Fall in rural wages’ growth, increase in the share of contract work in the organized manufacturing sector, increase in the wages of only the supervisory and managerial profiles against the meager increase in the wages of the production workers, and incessant growth in the wage gaps on the basis of gender and caste also feature as some prominent aspects of the Indian employment sector as per the study. [The Hindu]

All of the aforementioned developments have happened against the backdrop of the Prime Minister’s promise during the 2014 general elections that as many as 10 million jobs would be created during his tenure. With respect to this promise, the only data available to us is that of the formal sector, to which 4.1 million new jobs have apparently been added as per the Central Statistics Office (CSO), a source which in itself is not without flaws when it comes to mechanism of assessment used. At the same time, the sector barely accounts for 8% to 15% of the total workforce in the country.

This near insufficiency of CSO’s database and the variety of problems pointed out by the study cannot be considered a mere coincidence to have come forward in the same year in which Google announced the phrase ‘jobs near me’ as the most popular phrase used and searched in the country in 2018. As much as this ranking finds its origin in the increase in the number of users of of the Internet, what is important for us to note is that the difference that this factor can have is only quantitative and not qualitative. If the number of Internet users has increased over the past couple of years then the number of searches for any phrase could have shot up. Since only the phrase ‘jobs near me’ exhibited an increase, this qualitative specification has definitely emerged from the requirements of the people which can be easily identified from the aforementioned study of Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment.

While the usage of the phrase alone does not speak volumes about the country’s employment status, when it is viewed in the wake of the increasing gap between the overall GDP growth and the employment growth– leading to jobless growth– then it surely acts as an expression of public demand. Thus, it can be argued that the usage of the phrase can be indicative of the increase in the total number of people who are willing to work but cannot fit into the pre-existing opportunities at the country’s disposal.

While several studies have time and again prompted India to start focusing on job creation, the indirect message proposed by this ranking given by Google is indicative of the demand of the people, from the people themselves. Hence, it’s high time that the country’s leadership begins to respond to this demand in ways not limited to mere rhetoric.

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