Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) Quarterly Bulletin: January-March 2023


The National Statistical Office of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, initiated the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) in April 2017. The survey provides estimates for indicators such as the labour force participation rate (LFPR), the worker population ratio (WPR), and includes data on the employment status of workers and the sector (agriculture, secondary or tertiary) they work in. It also supplies data on the unemployment rate (UR) in the country. Data is calculated as per the current weekly status (CWS), that is, “on the basis of a reference period of last seven days preceding the date of survey.” The results of the survey are released in the form of quarterly bulletins, each covering three months of the survey year.

This quarterly bulletin – covering the period of January to March 2023 – is the eighteenth publication in the PLFS series. The data collection for this bulletin concluded in March 2023. The survey for this quarter covered 172,089 individuals from 44,982 households in 5,726 urban frame survey (UFS) blocks across the country. The sample included 87,422 men and 84,663 women. Additionally, the report provides data from the four preceding quarters: October-December 2022, July-September 2022, April-June 2022 and January-March 2022.

The 63-page document contains three sections: Introduction (Section 1); Key Findings (Section 2); and Sample Size (Section 3).


  1. The ‘labour force’ is the share of the population “which supplies or offers to supply labour for pursuing economic activities,” and thus includes both employed and unemployed people. The labour force participation rate (LFPR) measures the share of labour force within a population. During January-March 2023 (as per the current weekly status) the national LFPR was 38.1 per cent – 57.3 per cent for men and 18 per cent for women.

  2. In the same quarter (January to March 2023), Himachal Pradesh had the highest LFPR at 44.3 per cent. Whereas Bihar recorded the lowest LFPR at 28.8 per cent.

  3. The worker population ratio (WPR) is defined as the “percentage of workers in the population.” In India, during the first quarter of 2023, the WPR was 35.6 per cent – 53.8 per cent among men and 16.4 per cent among women.

  4. For those aged 15 years and above, the WPR stood at 45.2 per cent – 69.1 per cent among men and 20.6 per cent among women. In this age group, Himachal Pradesh had the highest WPR for females at 27.8 per cent, while Bihar had the lowest at 8.2 per cent. Gujarat saw the highest WPR among men at 76.3 per cent, while Jharkhand recorded the lowest at 62.5 per cent.

  5. The PLFS also outlines the percentage of workers across three categories: self-employed, regular wage/salaried employee and casual labour. According to the survey for January-March 2023, the majority (48.9 per cent) of workers surveyed were salaried employees or earned regular wages, while around 39.5 per cent were self-employed. Around 11.7 per cent were engaged in casual labour, which is defined as labour that is “casual or seasonal or intermittent in nature.”

  6. Among those surveyed (aged 15 years and above), 47.3 per cent of men and 54.2 per cent of women were salaried employees. The self-employed accounted for 39.7 per cent among men compared to 38.5 per cent among women. Additionally, 12.9 per cent of male workers and 7.3 per cent of female workers were engaged in casual labour.

  7. The survey also outlines the distribution of workers across agricultural, secondary (mining and quarrying among others) and tertiary sectors. In the first quarter of 2023, 5.8 per cent of people (4.8 per cent men and 9.3 per cent women) in urban areas worked in the agricultural sector.

  8. Approximately 32.9 per cent people (34.7 per cent men and 26.9 per cent women) were employed in the secondary sector. The majority of workers – 61.3 per cent – were employed in the tertiary sector.

  9. Following the current weekly status approach, a person is considered unemployed if they have not worked even for an hour during the reference week but sought work or were available for employment. The unemployment rate (UR) is defined as the "percentage of unemployed persons in the labour force." The UR among all workers was 6.8 per cent (6.1 per cent among men and 9.2 per cent among women).

  10. The unemployment rate was higher among workers aged 15-29 years. It was around 17.3 per cent overall, with 15.6 per cent among men and 22.9 per cent among women.

  11. Among the states and union territories surveyed, Himachal Pradesh recorded the highest unemployment rate at 15.2 per cent during January-March 2023, followed by Chhattisgarh at 12.5 per cent and Jammu and Kashmir at 12.4 per cent. Gujarat registered the lowest at three per cent.

    Focus and Factoids by Ishan Tyagi.


National Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi


National Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi


29 May, 2023