State of Working India 2023: Social Identities and Labour Market Outcomes


The 2023 edition of the State of Working India report was published by Centre of Sustainable Development, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, in September 2023. It presents household survey conducted in two states, Karnataka and Rajasthan, on the theme of “Social Identities and the Labour Market in India”, focussing on aspects like caste-wise division of workforce, unemployment rates and participation of women.

The report also examines secondary data including National Statistical Office’s Employment-Unemployment Surveys, the Periodic Labour Force Surveys, the National Family Health Surveys and Annual Survey of Industries.

This 239-page document is divided into eight chapters: Introduction (Chapter 1); Rising employment, stagnant earnings: Recent trends in the Indian labour market (Chapter 2); Growth, structural change and social identities - India and the States (Chapter 3); What determines women’s employment in India? (Chapter 4); Good jobs, intergenerational mobility and educational convergence (Chapter 5); Earnings disparities, identity-based segregation and entrepreneurship (Chapter 6); Improving survey-based measurements of labour market outcomes (Chapter 7); Conclusion (Chapter 8).


  1. There was an increase in workforce participation of women in rural Karnataka and Rajasthan after marriage. The workforce participation for women before marriage was 26 per cent which increased to 49 per cent within the first five years of the marriage.

  2. Based on queries posed on caregiving, access to education, mobility beyond the household, and more, the report created an ‘index of autonomy’. Women with high autonomy based on education, caste and age get more work opportunities and lesser working hours, the report states. Women with higher autonomy levels have an employment rate that is 10 percentage points higher than women with lower autonomy.

  3. The report states that 18 per cent of employed women in rural areas did not travel more than 1.5 kilometres outside their home for work. More than half of the women employed in non-farm industries did not travel outside their homes for work.

  4. There are notable inter-state differences in women’s travel patterns, the report states. In the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, 30 per cent of the employed women travel more than 1.5 kilometres for work. In southern states of Goa, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala 60 per cent women travel more than 1.5 kilometres for work.

  5. There has been a growth in wage work. Between 1983 and 2004, the share of regular wage workers in the workforce remained between 14 and 16 per cent. By 2017, this percentage jumped to around 24 per cent of the workforce.

  6. During 2017-2021, while India’s workforce grew by nearly 65 million, the increase in number of salaried workers was only 13 million. Their overall share in the workforce remained stagnant at 23 per cent. The report adds that women earn 76 per cent of what men earn in salaried work. The salaried earnings gap for caste – SC/ST/OBC, is also at around 76 per cent. Women workers who belong to SC or ST communities earn only 54 per cent of what women belonging to General caste earn in salaried work.

  7. In businesses of all sizes, both small firms and large firms, entrepreneurs from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes are underrepresented.

  8. The unemployment rate is lower than it was pre-covid, the report states. But the rate of unemployment remains above 15 per cent for graduates and reaches as high as 42 per cent for graduates under 25 years.

    Focus and Factoids by Ishita Banerjee.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University


Azim Premji University, Bengaluru


Sep, 2023