Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) Quarterly Bulletin: October-December 2021


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 7 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 October to December 2021 – is the thirteenth publication in the PLFS series. The data collection on the field for this report concluded in January 2022. The survey for this quarter covered 172,944 people from 44,553 households across 5,691 urban frame survey (UFS) blocks. The sample included 88,091 men and 84,833 women. Additionally, the report also provides data from the four preceding quarters: July-September 2021, April-June 2021, January-March 2021, and October-December 2020. 

This 64-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. The LFPR for the period from October to December 2021 was 37.2 per cent – 57.6 per cent among men and 16 per cent among women.

  2. During this period in urban areas, the lowest female LFPR was noted in Bihar at 5.7 per cent. The lowest LFPR for men during this quarter was also in Bihar – at 48.7 per cent.

  3. The worker population ratio (WPR) is termed as the “percentage of workers in the population”. It provides an estimate of the number of persons who worked for at least one hour on any day during the seven days preceding the date of survey. For this quarter, the overall WPR in India (as per the current weekly status) was 33.9 per cent. The figures for men were 52.9 per cent while numbers for women were noted to be 14.3 per cent.

  4. In urban areas, Himachal Pradesh had the highest WPR among women at 20.8 per cent. The lowest WPR among women, on the other hand, was in Bihar at 5.1 per cent. Gujarat had the highest WPR among men at 58.7 per cent, while Bihar had the lowest numbers at 43.3 per cent.

  5. The PLFS provides data on the percentage of workers across three categories: self-employed, regular wage/salaried employee and casual labour. Between October and December 2021, those earning regular wages or salaries comprised the highest percentage of the population surveyed – about 48 per cent. Around 39 per cent were self-employed and 12.5 per cent were engaged in ‘casual labour’. Casual labour is defined as labour which is of “casual or seasonal or intermittent nature.” The number of men engaging in casual labour was at 13.5 per cent while the number among women was at 8.8 per cent.

  6. The survey outlines the distribution of workers (those aged 15 years and above) across the agricultural, secondary (such as, mining and quarrying) and tertiary sectors. During October-December 2021, 5.9 per cent workers in urban areas were engaged in the agriculture sector, 33.7 per cent in the secondary sector and the highest (60.4 per cent) in the tertiary sector.

  7. Around 5.2 per cent of the surveyed men in urban areas were employed in the agricultural sector. Among the women, on the other hand, 8.5 per cent of the urban workforce engaged in the agricultural sector.

  8. Of the 22 states and union territories for which the document provides data, the highest percentage of women (aged 15 years and above) working in the agricultural sector in urban areas – during October-December 2021 – was noted in Jammu and Kashmir (excluding Ladakh) at 25.82 percent. The lowest number – at two per cent – was noted among women in West Bengal. The document does not report the figures for Delhi due to “nil or negligible sample size/value of estimates”.

  9. As per the current weekly status, a person – who is looking for and is available for work – is considered unemployed if they have not worked even for an hour during the week under consideration. The unemployment rate (UR) is the “percentage of unemployed persons in the labour force.” Across all age-groups, the overall UR across urban areas in the country during October-December 2021 was 8.8 per cent – 10.6 per cent among women and 8.3 per cent among men.

    Focus and Factoids by Devanshi Parekh.


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


06 May, 2022