New Delhi: The country’s unemployment rate was at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18, according to the National Sample Survey Office’s Periodic Labour Force Survey, which has been accessed by Business Standard.

The NSSO’s annual survey of 2017-18 is the first after November 2016, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

The report has been at the centre of a controversy after two members of the National Statistical Commission resigned this week in protest against the withholding of the NSSO’s (National Sample Survey Organisation) first Annual Survey on Employment and Unemployment for the year 2017-18, which contains data on job losses in the wake of demonetisation.

PC Mohanan confirmed that one of the reasons why he quit was the delay in the release of the report which was due to be released in December last year.

“Over a period, it was noticed the government does not take the NSC seriously. NSC was kept out while key decisions were taken. We were unable to effectively discharge our duties,” he said.

According to Business Standard, the NSSO report showed that unemployment was at its highest since the 1972-73 period. According to the survey, the unemployment rate stood at 2.2 per cent in 2011-12, during the United Progressive Alliance’s second term.

Unemployment among youth in urban areas was higher than in rural areas – 18.7 percent for men and 27.2 percent for women in 2017-18, according to the survey report.

Questioned over the resignation of the two members, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation clarified on Wednesday that it was “processing” the quarterly data and the report would be released after that. It also said the two members had never voiced their concern in the past few months.

“Keeping in view India’s strong demographic dividend and around 93 per cent of the informal workforce, it is important to improve measures of employment through administrative statistics and complemented by periodic surveys,” the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation said in its statement on Wednesday.