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Net new enrolments with retirement fund body EPFO declined marginally to 11.22 lakh in March from 11.28 lakh in February this year, according to payroll data released on Thursday.

The data provides a perspective on formal sector employment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During 2020-21, the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) added 77.08 lakh new members. In the year-ago period, it was at 78.58 lakh.

"Total 77.08 lakh net subscribers added under EPFO during FY 2020-21. The provisional payroll data... highlights that the EPFO has added around 11.22 lakh net subscribers in the month of March 2021," the labour ministry said in a statement.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, cumulative net payroll addition for FY 2021 is almost at par with last year, with 77.08 lakh net additions to the subscribers' base, it added.

Quarterly analysis of payroll for the 2020-21 indicates that net subscribers' addition improved consistently from the second quarter after taking a hit in the first quarter due to the crisis in the wake of the pandemic, as per the statement.

According to the statement, maximum improvement of 33.64 lakh net subscribers was observed during the fourth quarter (January-March 2021), a growth of 37.44 per cent compared to the third quarter (October-December 2020).

Of the 11.22 lakh net subscribers added during the month of March, around 7.16 lakh new members came under the social security ambit of EPFO for the first time.

Around 4.06 lakh net subscribers exited and then rejoined EPFO by switching their jobs within the establishments covered by EPFO and choosing to retain membership through transfer of funds rather than opting for final settlement.

The number of new subscribers is based on Universal Account Numbers (UANs) generated in the system and also have received non-zero subscriptions. The data of members who have exited EPFO are based on the claims submitted by the individuals/ establishments, and the exit data uploaded by employers.

The highest number of net enrolments were those in the age group of 22-25 years at around 3.14 lakh in March. They were followed by those in the age group of 18-21 years at 2.29 lakh during the same month.

Members in the 18-25 age group has contributed around 48.44 per cent of the net subscriber additions in March 2021.

A gender-wise analysis of last fiscal's data showed an upward swing in the ratio of net female subscribers addition to the total net additions from October 2020 till end of last fiscal.

In March, around 2.42 lakh net female subscribers were added, accounting for 21.56 per cent of total net addition during the month.

Among the main industries, Iron ore mines, Courier services, Restaurants, Road Motor Transport, Petroleum & Natural gas refining, Iron and steel, and establishments engaged in manufacturing, marketing and usage of computers witnessed positive growth in terms of net members' additions in March compared to February.

The payroll figures are provisional since data generation is a continuous exercise as updation of employee record is a continuous process.

Since April 2018, EPFO has been releasing payroll data covering the period from September 2017 onwards. The data pertains to members who have joined a particular month and whose contribution has been received.

The number of net enrolments with the body was revised downwards to 11.28 lakh for February 2021 from earlier provisional estimates of 12.37 lakh that was released in April.

According to the latest data, net new enrolments in April 2020 were in the negative zone at (-) 2,84,576 against the figure of (-) 2,72,900 released in April this year. This means that the number of members who exited the EPFO subscription was more than those who joined or rejoined the scheme.

The number of net new enrolments in May 2020 was also revised downwards to (-) 2,89,489 from (-) 2,72,328 estimated in April.

Net new enrolments in June 2020 were revised down to 1,26,623 from 1,39,789 that was estimated in April.

Further, net new enrolments in July 2020 were revised downwards to 5,02,786 from 5,15,428. For August, it was revised to 6,25,556 from 6,42,446 earlier.

As per the data, the net new enrolments in September 2020 is down to 12,16,345 from the April estimate of 12,31,042. The figures for October has been lowered to 8,86,230 from the earlier estimate of 9,00,037.

For November 2020, the numbers have been revised downwards to 6,67,010 from 6,99,020 earlier while for December 2020, the count was down at 8,94,188 against the previous estimate of 9,42,825.

According to the data, the net new enrolments for January has been lowered to 11,13,080 from 11,95,383 that was estimated in April.

EPFO manages social security funds of workers in the organised/ semi-organised sectors.

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Free Press Journal