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The government did not confirm the contents of the NSSO report but said it felt that the report doesn't present an accurate comparative picture.

Niti Aayog's Kumar, however, said the data collected in the Periodic Labour Force Survey for June 2017-July 2018 needs to be compared on a quarterly basis, and the numbers for July-December 2018 are still being processed, he said.

Business Standard Thursday reported that the NSSO survey on employment and unemployment figures for 2017-18 showed high levels of joblessness in both urban and rural areas, in the aftermath of the Modi government's decision to demonetise high value currency notes.

That year, when India was just coming out of a war with Pakistan and hit by global oil shocks like other oil-importing countries, the unemployment rate was 5.18 percent. "The government has to make the data public as soon as possible", added Anamitra Roy Chowdhury, a labour economist with the Centre for Informal Sector & Labour Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

"The feeling that we are trying to hide something is incorrect", NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant added.

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"To my mind, the problem is that there's a lack of good-quality jobs, and that's what we need to focus on". "This report was released for approval because this is a standalone report and it does not require any additional verification with any sources".

The damning revelation comes just a day after a controversy erupted over the central government's refusal to release the report on unemployment despite the National Statistical Commission giving its approval in December previous year. In case of female youth in rural areas, unemployment rate stood at 13.6 per cent in 2017-18 as compared to 4.8 per cent in 2011-12.

The data showed that the Indian economy grew at an average of only 6.67 per cent in the nine years through 31 March 2014 (UPA tenure), slower than the 7.35 per cent achieved in the four years through 31 March 2018 (NDA tenure). The BJP claimed that the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) data on job creation show "sharp increase" in employment generation.

The Indian economy has been expanding at a rate of over 7 per cent annually, one of the fastest in the world. Dubbing the Prime Minister as "Fuhrer", Gandhi said that, "unemployment is at its highest in 45 yrs".

That report said the job losses were mainly due to demonetisation and rising working costs after the launch of a national sales tax in July 2017, which led to hundreds of thousands losing jobs in small businesses.