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EPFO Records Modest 0.46% CAGR in New Female Subscribers Over 5-Year Period

Over the past five years, the number of new female subscribers to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) has experienced a modest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 0.46 percent. This has resulted in the total number of female subscribers remaining nearly unchanged since 2018, as per an analysis conducted by Moneycontrol using data from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).

In the fiscal year 2019, there were more than 29.23 lakh female subscribers, but this number declined to 25.20 lakh in FY20. The most significant drop was observed during FY21, likely influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 19.45 lakh new members joining, a decrease of over 5.75 lakh from the previous year.

Despite the ongoing conversation about increasing workplace diversity and fostering inclusion, industry and HR experts suggest that the decline in female subscribers can be attributed to various challenges women employees face, including career interruptions due to marriage and childbirth.

RP Yadav, CMD of Genius Consultants, an HR consultancy firm, explained, “In India, it’s common for women’s labor force participation to decline during periods of economic prosperity when men are more engaged in the workforce, and this trend has continued. With the economy now stabilizing after the Covid pandemic, male employees’ incomes have increased, leading to reduced female workforce participation in the formal sector.”

The Employees’ Provident Fund, administered by the EPFO, is a mandatory savings scheme that covers all establishments with 20 or more employees. The number of members subscribing to this scheme serves as an indicator of employment levels in the formal sector.

The government clarified that the subscriber data is sourced from various channels, leading to overlaps. The Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation National Statistical Office emphasized that this report offers diverse insights into formal sector employment levels and does not provide a comprehensive measure of employment.

Although there has been minimal growth in the number of female subscribers, there has been a reduction in the gender gap, with a CAGR of 7.39 percent over the past five years. In FY19, the gender gap stood at approximately 81 lakh but decreased to 55.13 lakh in FY23.

EPFO data reveals that over 6.43 crore new members joined the EPF scheme between September 2017 and March 2023.

According to the State of Working India 2023 report by Azim Premji University, the percentage of workers engaged in regular wage or salaried employment has been on the rise since 2004, increasing from 18 percent to 25 percent for men and 10 percent to 25 percent for women.

However, the report also highlighted a surge in female self-employment since 2019, driven by distress. Before Covid-19, 50 percent of women were self-employed, and this figure increased to 60 percent in the post-Covid period. Consequently, earnings from self-employment have decreased in real terms during this period.

Two years after the 2020 lockdown, self-employment earnings were only 85 percent of what they were in the April-June 2019 quarter, as noted in the report.

EPFO Records Modest 0.46% CAGR in New Female Subscribers Over 5-Year Period

Over the past five years, the number of new female subscribers to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) has experienced a modest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 0.46 percent. This has resulted in the total number of female subscribers remaining nearly unchanged since 2018, as per an analysis conducted by Moneycontrol using data from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).

In the fiscal year 2019, there were more than 29.23 lakh female subscribers, but this number declined to 25.20 lakh in FY20. The most significant drop was observed during FY21, likely influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, with only 19.45 lakh new members joining, a decrease of over 5.75 lakh from the previous year.

Despite the ongoing conversation about increasing workplace diversity and fostering inclusion, industry and HR experts suggest that the decline in female subscribers can be attributed to various challenges women employees face, including career interruptions due to marriage and childbirth.

RP Yadav, CMD of Genius Consultants, an HR consultancy firm, explained, “In India, it’s common for women’s labor force participation to decline during periods of economic prosperity when men are more engaged in the workforce, and this trend has continued. With the economy now stabilizing after the Covid pandemic, male employees’ incomes have increased, leading to reduced female workforce participation in the formal sector.”

The Employees’ Provident Fund, administered by the EPFO, is a mandatory savings scheme that covers all establishments with 20 or more employees. The number of members subscribing to this scheme serves as an indicator of employment levels in the formal sector.

The government clarified that the subscriber data is sourced from various channels, leading to overlaps. The Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation National Statistical Office emphasized that this report offers diverse insights into formal sector employment levels and does not provide a comprehensive measure of employment.

Although there has been minimal growth in the number of female subscribers, there has been a reduction in the gender gap, with a CAGR of 7.39 percent over the past five years. In FY19, the gender gap stood at approximately 81 lakh but decreased to 55.13 lakh in FY23.

EPFO data reveals that over 6.43 crore new members joined the EPF scheme between September 2017 and March 2023.

According to the State of Working India 2023 report by Azim Premji University, the percentage of workers engaged in regular wage or salaried employment has been on the rise since 2004, increasing from 18 percent to 25 percent for men and 10 percent to 25 percent for women.

However, the report also highlighted a surge in female self-employment since 2019, driven by distress. Prior to Covid-19, 50 percent of women were self-employed, and this figure increased to 60 percent in the post-Covid period. Consequently, earnings from self-employment have decreased in real terms during this period.

Two years after the 2020 lockdown, self-employment earnings were only 85 percent of what they were in the April-June 2019 quarter, as noted in the report.

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