Report of the Committee on Unorganised Sector Statistics


The National Statistical Commission (NSC) constituted the Committee on Unorganised Sector Statistics in August 2010. Its mandate was to identify major gaps in data related to unorganised enterprises and workers, and to suggest ways to develop a statistical database for the sector that considers both international standards and Indian conditions.                                               

The Committee recognised the importance of the unorganised sector – not only in terms of contributing to the economy but also sustaining livelihoods. Therefore, its members stated that a well-structured and defined framework of statistics was necessary for the sector.

The Committee’s report critically reviews various surveys in terms of their coverage of the sector, discusses data about access to credit, and highlights gaps in the linkages between the formal and informal sectors. It also throws light on much-neglected aspects of the unorganised sector, such as sustainability and risk management.

The Committee recommended that a dedicated unit be set up within the National Statistical Organisation (NSO), which would interact with national-level institutions involved in conducting surveys and encourage them to adopt standardised concepts and definitions related to the informal sector.


  1. The report says that the unorganised or informal sector accounted for over 90 per cent of the country’s workforce and about 50 per cent of the national product. 

  2. About 52 per cent of workers engaged in agricultural activities were not covered by the employment-unemployment surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). This included 65 per cent of rural ‘usual status’ workers (who were employed during the last financial year) and nearly 7 per cent of urban ‘usual status’ workers.

  3. In 2010, the Labour Bureau conducted its first Employment-Unemployment Survey in 300 districts of 28 states and union territories (UTs) to assess the employment situation in the period of global recession. The survey was done again in 2011, when about 1.25 lakh households in all the states and UTs were covered. However, these surveys did not distinguish between formal and informal employment, and the Committee suggested that they be redesigned to cover the latter.

  4. The Time Use Survey (TUS) was conceived to understand the work done by women and children during a 24-hour period (especially domestic work) mostly in rural areas. This kind of work was not included in the NSSO’s conventional labour-force surveys. While a pilot was conducted in six states in 1998-99, TUS was found to be resource-intensive; however, the Committee recommended that it could be undertaken every 10 years if the resource constraints were overcome. 

  5. The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) had collected data on small-scale industries since 1973-74. But it was only during its third and fourth census of  SSIs in 2001-02 and 2006-07 respectively, that information on unregistered enterprises (those not registered with the District Industries Centres) was collected. 

  6. The Committee noted a major deficiency in the Economic Census (EC), which did not cover businesses without fixed premises or enterprises in residential areas. While the sixth EC in 2012 proposed to cover all ‘own account enterprises’ (businesses without hired workers or fixed premises), like past surveys, it would not cover agricultural enterprises engaged in crop production and plantation.

  7. According to a paper by Ramesh Kolli and Anindita Sinharay titled ‘Share of Informal Sector and Informal Employment in GDP and Employment’, the total number of jobs in 2004-05 was estimated to be 5,562 lakh. To this figure agriculture contributed 3,370 lakh jobs, followed by manufacturing with 603 lakh jobs. Interestingly, unorganised agricultural jobs were 99.9 per cent of all the agricultural jobs and unorganised manufacturing jobs, 87.7 per cent of all the manufacturing jobs. This meant that agriculture and manufacturing together had about 98.2 per cent of the jobs in the unorganised sector.

  8. As per Kolli and Sinharay’s paper, almost one-third of the jobs in the public sector were informal, and they had gone up from 29.5 per cent in 1999-2000 to 33.6 per cent in 2004-05 due to outsourcing or contracting.

  9. The paper also said that of the 25 lakh jobs created between 1999-2000 and 2004-05 in the private corporate sector, 17 lakh jobs were formal while 8 lakh were informal.

  10. Since statistics on the informal sector were gathered mostly through large-scale sample surveys that used the personal interview approach, the Committee recommended that primary field workers meet the minimum educational standards, have a working knowledge of English, be proficient in the regional language, and possess basic knowledge of computers.

    Focus and Factoids by Sushmita Iyer.


Committee on Unorganised Sector Statistics

The Committee had of the following members: Prof. R. Radhakrishna; Prof. Sheila Bhalla; Prof. Ravi Srivastava; Prof. D. N. Reddy; Dr. Srijit Mishra; Prof. Alakh N. Sharma; Mr. A. B. Chakraborty, RBI; Dr. S. L. Shetty; Dr. Asis Kumar, ADG, CSO (NAD); Mr. H. P. Sharma, ADG, CSO (ESD); Mr. Servesh Kumar, DDG, NSSO (FOD); Mr. G. Sajeevan, DDG, MSME; Director, DES, Govt. of Karnataka; and Dr. Rajiv Mehta.


National Statistical Commission, Government of India 


01 Feb, 2012