Gender gap in wages, unemployment

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State faces the ignominy of having highest female unemployment rate in the country

Gender equality still remains a distant dream in economic participation in Kerala. Despite achieving parity in the field of education, Kerala faces the ignominy of having the highest female unemployment rate in the country.

While the overall unemployment rate in Kerala stood at 6.7%, a wide gender gap of 14.1% for women and 2.9% for men existed, according to the Gender Statistics 2017-18 which was released by the Department of Economics and Statistics (DES) on Thursday. The national average in both unemployment rate for women and men stood at 2.2%.

The scenario existed despite the State maintaining higher economic growth rate than many other States and ensuring relatively high literacy level among women. Highlighting gender parity in literacy in Kerala, youth literacy levels for male and female stood at 99.04 and 99.03 respectively.

The DES findings, derived from the latest National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data for 2011-12, also provided an insight into the employment disparity. The rural and urban divide in unemployment rate for female in Kerala is narrow unlike at the all-India level, in which the corresponding rate for female in rural areas is often double than those in urban areas. The study summarised that while gender bias is more pronounced in Kerala, it is the spatial bias that is more pronounced at the all-India level.

Wage discrimination in the State remained much higher than the national average with men receiving almost double than women among casual labourers. While the average remuneration of male casual labourers is ₹345.14 in rural areas and ₹335.76 in urban areas, those received by their female counterparts were ₹169.61 in rural areas and ₹167.56 in urban areas. The gender gap at the national level is not as significant.

However, the gender differential in wages among regular wage/salaried employees showed equal pattern at both the State and national levels. Here, the gender gap in wages in the rural sector is ₹128 in Kerala and ₹121 at the national level, and ₹107 in Kerala and ₹104 at the national level in the urban sector.

Shedding light on the structure of employment, more than one-third of women workers (38%) in Kerala were in the tertiary sector, much higher than the national average (17%). Notably, females outnumbered males in the primary sector both in Kerala and at the national level.

Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel formally launched various statistical reports that were brought out by the DES at a workshop on official statistics here.

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