Ahead of Uttar Pradesh's Assembly Elections, Indian National Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed a 'Pratigya Rally' in Gorakhpur on October 31, 2021 and claimed that there were 5 crore unemployed youths in the state.

"Today's youths are unemployed. In Uttar Pradesh itself 5 crore youths are unemployed," Vadra claimed at 1:04:28 timestamp in the video below. The Congress general secretary made a flurry of promises while urging people to bring a change in the state's governance. She promised that if voted to power, Congress will give government jobs to 20 lakh youths.

Held between October 23 and November 1, the rallies are to communicate 'seven pledges' to the people in the state, apart from the party's election manifesto.

However, her claim of 5 crore youths being unemployed in UP doesn't check out. FactChecker looked at data provided by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a business information company and an independent think tank, and the latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) published in July 2021 by the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI). Here's what we found.

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According to CMIE's latest 'Unemployment in India: A Statistical Profile' for May-August 2021, 5.9 crore people constitute the state's entire labour force, which includes people aged 15 years or more who are either employed or are unemployed, willing to work and actively looking for a job.

Similarly, according to PLFS, "Labour force refers to the part of the population which supplies or offers to supply labour for pursuing economic activities for the production of goods and services and therefore, includes both 'employed' and 'unemployed' persons."

This means that if what Vadra claimed were true, nearly the entire labour force of the state would have been unemployed. But this is not the case since, according to CMIE, of the 5.9 crore labour force, more than 5.5 crore are employed and the number of unemployed active job seekers stands at 31.96 lakh.

The state's unemployment rate was 13.4%, which still would have been 79.15 lakh people (13.4% of 5.9 crore labour force). While UP's unemployment rate, according to CMIE's May-August 2021 report, was 5.41%, by October 2021 it further reduced to 4.2%. This means that currently there are 24.8 lakh unemployed people in the state.

FactChecker spoke to Mahesh Vyas, managing director of CMIE, to understand the data collection process of the organisation. "We do household surveys. We collect a very large sample of 176 thousand [1.76 lakh] households all over India. This is done through stratified random sampling at multiple levels," said Vyas. He added that the sample size is larger than the official survey which is about 1.1 lakh and CMIE also uses data from the 2011 Census.

"In Uttar Pradesh, we conducted the survey in 45 towns and 477 villages. The sample size is 23,540 and we cover 66 out of the 71 districts," said Vyas.

According to Vyas, this number has been reasonably constant in the last year mainly because of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is an agrarian society and so there will be fluctuations. But, the number of unemployed people, who are willing to work and are actively looking for work, has been between 2.5 to 4 million," Vyas concluded.

Under unemployment, there are two more categories: Unemployed willing to work but not actively looking for work and Out of labour force (not willing to be employed). CMIE's May-August 2021 report shows that 23.66 lakh unemployed people in the state want to work but are not looking for a job and 10.77 crore people have pulled themselves out of the workforce. So, if totalled, the number of people who are unemployed and willing to work, no matter if they are looking for a job or not, stands at 55.62 lakh in UP.

CMIE's figures are based on their own survey called the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey. A simple random sampling process was used and samples were drawn based on the 2011 Census.

According to PLFS' latest quarterly data from July-September 2020, the state's labour force participation rate was 33.3% and unemployment rate was 13.4%, which, if calculated against the state's projected population (23.4 crore), would mean that 1.4 crore people are actively looking for work and not finding employment. The ministry has not published any data on unemployment after September 2020.

Moreover, according to a Business Today report, UP's Labour Minister Swami Prasad Maurya, in a written response in the state assembly, said 33.93 lakh unemployed educated youth had registered themselves as unemployed on the government portal until February 7, 2020. Although, that same month, UP CM Yogi Adityanath said he gave jobs in the public sector to more than 2.5 lakh youths since he came to power.

FactChecker called up Vadra's office and emailed her for a clarification on her statement but had not received a response by the time of publishing. If and when we do, this article will be updated.

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