Rural wages: Kerala tops list, 15 states lag national average

Rural wages: Kerala tops list, 15 states lag national average
© Provided by The Indian Express

Rural workers in Kerala earn way more than their counterparts in more developed states like Gujarat and Maharashtra and over double the national average.

A rural worker (men in the non-agricultural segment) in Kerala earned an average of Rs 677.6 daily for 2020-21, taking the top position among the states, according to statistics released by the Reserve Bank of India. While the national average is Rs 315.3, in Maharashtra, considered as the most industrialised state and a leading producer of farm products, a rural worker earns just Rs 262.3, according to the data sourced from Indian Labour Journal of the Union Government’s Labour Bureau.

In Gujarat, considered a role model for development and industrialisation, a rural worker got Rs 239.3 during the year. While Uttar Pradesh’s rural worker gets Rs 286.8, a rural worker in Bihar gets an average of Rs 289.3 daily. On the other hand, Kerala is followed by Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) where the rural worker got Rs 483 and Tamil Nadu Rs 449.5. Rural daily wage in 15 of 20 states are below the All-India average, indicating that consumption trend across the country could be in line with the movement daily wages. The wage data is available for 20 states.

There is also wide variation in per capita output generated across states. For 2020-21, Goa was at the top, with highest per capita net state domestic product (NSDP) of Rs 3,74,055, followed by Sikkim at Rs 2,57,999, Delhi at Rs 2,54,001 and Haryana at Rs 1,63,992. Bihar had the lowest per capita NSDP at Rs 31,017, behind Uttar Pradesh at Rs 41,023, Jharkhand at Rs 53,489, Meghalaya at Rs 56471. Many states recorded a reduction in per capita NSDP in 2020-21 over 2019-20, possibly due to reduction in output because of the lockdown.

In the rural agricultural segment also, daily wage data shows similar state-wise pattern. In Kerala, daily wage in the agri sector is Rs 706.5, followed by J&K at Rs 501.1 and Tamil Nadu Rs 432.2. While the all-India average is Rs 309.9, Gujarat’s agri worker get just Rs 213.1 and Maharashtra Rs 267.7 per day for 2020-21. In Punjab, it was Rs 357 and Haryana Rs 384.8. All-India data for 2020-21 is the average of 11 months as data for April 2020 is not available. State-wise data for 2020-21 is the average of 10 months as data for April and May 2020 are not available, as per the report.

The rural daily wage goes up in the construction sector. In Kerala, daily wage in construction is Rs 829.7 while the all-India average is Rs 362.2. In Tamil Nadu, rural construction worker gets Rs 468.3. In Maharashtra, a rural worker gets Rs 347.9. Migrant workers are the main workforce in Kerala. The total number of other state domestic migrants in Kerala was about 31 lakh during 2017-18, according to a study released by the Kerala State Planning Board in March. The KSPB report says interstate migrants in Kerala, on average, earn about Rs 16,000 per month, of which they are able to generate about Rs 4,000 (on average) per month as surplus income or savings.

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