Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) Quarterly Bulletin July-September 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 in urban areas 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 July to September 2023 – is the twentieth publication in the PLFS series. The survey for this quarter covered 170,004 individuals from 44,738 households in 5,706 urban frame survey (UFS) blocks across the country. The sample included 86,297 men and 83,703 women. Additionally, the report provides data from the four preceding quarters: April-June 2023, January-March 2023, October-December 2022, and July-September 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 individuals. The labour force participation rate (LFPR) measures the share of labour force within a population. The country-level LFPR according to current weekly status (CWS) for the quarter July-September 2023 was 38.8 per cent – 57.6 per cent among men and 19 per cent among women.

  2. In the same quarter, the highest LFPR was recorded in Himachal Pradesh at 45.5 per cent whereas the lowest was in Bihar at 30.6 per cent. Highest and lowest LFPRs among women were also recorded in Himachal Pradesh and Bihar at 31 and 10.4 per cent respectively. But while the lowest LFPR among men was noted in Bihar (48.6 per cent), the highest was in West Bengal (63.4 per cent).

  3. The Worker Population Ratio (WPR) refers to the “percentage of workers in the population”. The country-level WPR was at 36.2 per cent. There was a stark difference in the WPR among men (54.2 per cent) and the WPR among women (17.4 per cent).

  4. The WPR was highest in the state of Karnataka at 40.6 per cent and lowest in Bihar at 28.5 per cent. Among women the WPR had a similar trend with highest numbers in Karnataka (23.5 per cent) and lowest in Bihar (9.3 per cent). On the other hand, West Bengal had the highest WPR among men with 60.4 per cent and Bihar had the lowest with 45.5 per cent.

  5. The PLFS also outlines the percentage of workers across three categories: self-employed, regular wage/salaried employee, and casual labour. Most of the workers surveyed aged 15 years and above were salaried employees or earned regular wages (48.3 per cent). Around 40.4 per cent were self-employed and 11.3 per cent were engaged in casual labour. Casual labour is defined as labour which is of “casual or seasonal or intermittent nature.”

  6. Of the people surveyed, 47 per cent of men were salaried employees compared to 52.8 per cent of women. Those self-employed numbered 40.4 per cent among men compared to 40.3 per cent among women. As many as 12.7 per cent of male workers and 6.9 per cent of female workers were engaged in casual labour.

  7. The survey also provides information about the distribution of workers (15 years and above) across the different sectors: agriculture, secondary (mining and quarrying among others) and tertiary. In this quarter, the tertiary sector has the highest number of workers at 61.5 per cent in urban areas. Around 32.4 per cent were engaged in the secondary sector and 6.1 per cent in the agriculture sector.

  8. The highest share of workers in the agriculture sector was recorded in Bihar (12.33 per cent) followed by Madhya Pradesh (10.65 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (10.18 per cent). Whereas the highest numbers in the secondary sector were recorded in Gujarat (44.13 per cent), Jharkhand (39.34 per cent) and Himachal Pradesh (39.08 per cent).

  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 looked for work or were available for employment. The unemployment rate (UR) is the “percentage of unemployed persons in the labour force.” The UR among workers of all ages was 6.6 per cent (six per cent among men and 8.6 per cent among women).

  10. The UR among workers aged 15-29 years marginally decreased from 17.6 per cent in the previous quarter to 17.3 per cent in this quarter. It was 15.5 per cent among men and 22.9 per cent among women.

  11. Of the states and union territories for which the survey provides data, Himachal Pradesh recorded the highest unemployment rate (33.9 per cent) among those aged 15-29 years during July-September 2023. It was followed by Rajasthan with a 56.3 per cent unemployment rate. Gujarat, on the other hand, recorded the lowest – 7.1 per cent.

    Focus and Factoids by Radhika Gupta.


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


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


29 Nov, 2023