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Do you think our GDP comes only from cushy jobs? Think again

Nihar Gokhale | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 4:05 IST

India has been touted as the next engine for the world economy, on the back of some impressive GDP growth figures. But did you know that more than half of that GDP is the contribution of informal sector workers.

Did you know that most informal workers are neither construction workers or rickshaw pullers, but weavers? If you didn't, you are not alone.

These workers are poorly paid and have insecure jobs. They work not just in the unorganised sector, but also in the organised sector (like in offices and factories) as casual workers.

On the eve of the nationwide labour strike on 2 September, it is worth remembering the state of informal sector workers in India. Catch tells you the story of the most underrated workers of India through numbers:


  • Was the share of the informal sector in India's GDP in 2004-05, according to the National Commission for Enterprises in the unorganised sector
  • The formal sector contributed 46%


  • Is the percentage of informal sector workers among all workers of the country
  • Of them, 82% work in the unorganised sector

lakh crore


  • Was the gross value added by the economic activities of informal sector workers (2004-05)
  • Most of this value was generated by agriculture, transport and trade


  • Was the average daily earning of a casual worker (2011-12)
  • This was half of what a regular worker earned
  • And just 7% of the average daily earning of a public sector employee


  • is the share of urban workers engaged in weaving
  • Sweepers come second, making up 6.5% of all urban workers


  • is the share of urban workers engaged in informal construction jobs
  • Street vending, construction work and rickshaw pulling also have similar shares
  • 3.2% are petty shopkeepers

First published: 2 September 2015, 2:42 IST
Nihar Gokhale @nihargokhale

Nihar is a reporter with Catch, writing about the environment, water, and other public policy matters. He wrote about stock markets for a business daily before pursuing an interdisciplinary Master's degree in environmental and ecological economics. He likes listening to classical, folk and jazz music and dreams of learning to play the saxophone.