Wage rates in rural India

The Labour Bureau, affiliated to the Union Ministry of Labour, does a monthly survey on wages in Rural India. Wages of men and women in select occupations are polled (data is collected by the NSSO) and published on the website of the labour bureau. In this post we will look at the average daily wages of unskilled male workers (as reported by this survey) in the 20 states for which it is published (your guess is as good as mine as to why it is not published for other states).

Source: Labour Bureau statistics
Source: Labour Bureau statistics

It is interesting to note that the daily wage of the average unskilled man in Kerala is almost five times that of the average unskilled man in either Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh (states that are at the bottom of the list). Some states known to be “progressive” such as Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu are also towards the top of the list while other so-called “progressive” states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat are close to the bottom.

Like any other data put out by the government, this should be taken with some salt. First of all, the sample sizes is not mentioned. Secondly, only the average number is reported and no measure of dispersion is given. For example, it is hypothetically possible that in Kerala they interviewed ten workers, nine of whom received Rs. 100 and the tenth received Rs. 4000 leading to an average of Rs. 490! As a thumb rule, when you put out survey data, you should always include sample size and a measure of variation (such as the standard deviation), else it is hard to conclude anything from the data.

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