Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) Quarterly Bulletin October-December 2023


The National Sample Survey 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 October to December 2023 – is the twenty-first publication in the PLFS series. The survey for this quarter covered 169,209 individuals from 44,544 households in 5,697 Urban Frame Survey Blocks (UFS) across the country. The sample included 85,606 men and 83,598 women. Additionally, the report provides data from the four preceding quarters: July-September 2023, April-June 2023, January-March 2023, October-December 2022.

The 63-page report is divided into three broad 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 country level LFPR for the October-December 2023 quarter was 39.2 per cent - 19.9 per cent among women and 57.8 per cent among men.

  2. In the same quarter (October-December 2023) in urban areas, Bihar recorded the lowest LFPRs among men and women at 47.3 per cent and 9.7 per cent respectively. On the other hand, the highest LFPRs were recorded in Himachal Pradesh (32.7 per cent) for women and West Bengal (62.6 per cent) for men.

  3. The worker population ratio (WPR) is defined as the “percentage of workers in the population”.  When compared to the previous quarter, WPR among men of all ages changed from 54.2 per cent to 43.5 per cent. Among women, WPR grew from 17.4 per cent to 18.2 per cent.

  4. The WPR for those aged 15 years and above was 46.6 per cent – 69.8 per cent for men and 22.9 per cent for women. In this age group, Himachal Pradesh registered the highest WPR for women at 30.6 per cent whereas Bihar registered the lowest at 12.6 per cent. The WPR among men was highest in Gujarat 75.4 per cent and lowest in Kerala at 63.2 per cent.

  5. The PLFS outlines the percentage of workers across the three categories: self-employed, regular wage/salaried employee and casual labour. During the period of October-December 2023, most of the workers surveyed (48.7 per cent) were salaried employees or earned regular wages. Around 40.6 per cent were self-employed and 10.8 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 surveyed people under consideration (aged 15 years and above), 47.3 per cent men were salaried employees compared to 53 per cent of women. Those self-employed numbered 40.6 per cent among men compared to 40.3 per cent among women. As many as 12.1 per cent of male workers and 6.7 per cent of female workers were engaged in casual labour.

  7. The survey also gives data about the distribution of workers across agricultural, secondary (mining and quarrying among others) and tertiary sectors. In the final quarter of 2023, 5.9 per cent people (4.5 per cent men and 10.1 per cent women) in urban areas, were employed in the agricultural sector. Around 32.1 per cent people (33.9 per cent men and 26.6 per cent women) were employed in the secondary sector. A majority of the people surveyed – 62 per cent – worked in the tertiary sector.

  8. Comparing the worker distribution across sectors, the data shows that Assam had the highest percentage of people (73.62 per cent) in the tertiary sector. Himachal Pradesh had the highest percentage of its worker population engaged in the secondary sector (44.29 per cent) whereas Madhya Pradesh had the highest in the primary sector (11.43 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 6.5 per cent – 5.8 per cent among men and 8.6 per cent among women.

  10. The unemployment rate was noted to be higher among workers aged 15-29 years at 16.5 per cent. It was 14.6 per cent in the male labour force and 22.5 per cent in the female labour force.

  11. Of the states and union territories for which the survey provides data, Kerala recorded the highest unemployment rate at 28.4 per cent during October-December 2023 among workers aged 15-29 years. It was followed by Jammu and Kashmir with a UR of 27.7 per cent. Delhi, on the other hand, recorded the lowest at 7.2 per cent.

    Focus and Factoids by Aditi Dikey.


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


12 Feb, 2024