Open positions at the end of April dropped 31% from March to touch the lowest level in 2021, according to data from official company job pages on LinkedIn and direct postings on top job boards.
India’s job market, which was on the path of recovery, was thrown into a state of panic in April as the second Covid-19 wave spiralled across the country and lockdowns re-emerged in various states. Open positions at the end of April dropped 31% from March to touch the lowest level in 2021, according to data from official company job pages on LinkedIn and direct postings on top job boards.
The count of active jobs barely touched the 200,000 mark in April, down from 290,000 in March. This was sharper than the 18% drop in active job vacancies in the same period last year, when a nationwide lockdown was in force, data compiled by specialist staffing company Xpheno shows.
“The 90,000 drop in count is a rollback of the buoyancy that markets were witnessing and betting on earlier in the year,” said Kamal Karanth, cofounder of Xpheno. “The sharp drop in active jobs is a panic response that’s way above what we witnessed last year when lockdowns began. This response will create a notable hiring backlog as enterprises were full-on with their hiring plans for the new FY.”
The sharp drop in active openings was seen across key sectors, including a 29% fall in technology companies and a 35% plunge in banking, financial services and insurance. Other sectors affected include manufacturing, large-form retail, services, hospitality, automobiles and entertainment.
However, April’s figures are still higher than the lowest active job numbers in the past year, which were 132,000 in June and 142,000 in July.
Experts said while companies will moderate hiring, small and medium enterprises and brick-and-mortar players will be affected the most.
“The job market will get impacted more in the SMEs due to the localised nature of the lockdowns,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Care Ratings.
“Unorganised sectors, casual labour in sectors such as construction and textiles, services sectors such as hospitality and restaurants may see more workforce rationalisation, too.”
Large companies and conglomerates said their hiring plans are on track as of now but a lot would depend on how the infections are brought under control and the impact of the second wave on the economy. Top company executives said it’s too early to gauge the depth and severity of the impact on business and jobs.
“If the situation worsens from here on and the economy takes a tumble in the April-June quarter, things could go down south and it could be the same as last year,” said S Venkatesh, president – group HR at RPG Group. “But we have not dropped any hiring plans as of now.”
While consultants agree there will be an impact on jobs, not many are willing to guess whether it will be temporary or longer term.
“At the moment, the top priority for all companies and HR is crisis management. Supporting employees in Covid-related emergencies is the most important thing now for HR and everything else has taken a backseat,” said Anurag Malik, partner – people advisory services, EY India.
Data from Xpheno showed that New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad collectively saw a drop of over 32,000 jobs in April. Mumbai registered the sharpest drop in active job counts at 40%, followed by Chennai at 33%, Delhi shrank by 27%, Bengaluru dropped by 25% and Hyderabad was down 13% over March.