Among the many indicators, perhaps the most significant is the decline in number of establishments registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation by more than 30,800 in October, compared to September. As reported by Mint, its enrolled number of workers also fell, by more than 1.8 million, during the same period. This was the first fall since May when the country was under lockdown.

These numbers needs to be taken seriously, not just as an indicator of the vulnerability of the employment situation, but also as a performance indicator of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The MSME sector is vital for employment generation, as also for an economic recovery to sustain. The fiscal stimulus announced on 12 November included measures to boost employment in the MSME sector as part of the Atmanirbhar Rozgar Yojana, under which the government will bear the entire provident fund contributions for two years of all new employees hired. However, similar announcements earlier failed to enthuse the MSME sector.