Indians continue to show their entrepreneurial spirit by opening more and more shops. With over 1.6 crore retail shops in the country--about one for every 15 families--this sector of work outguns every other. Manufacturing, considered the backbone of prosperity for any economy , is second to retail with over 1 crore units.
But manufacturing employs over 3 crore people, beating retail trade which has about 2.7 crore. Transport companies, warehousing, hotels and eateries, and healthcare-related enterprises are other major occupations, while educational enterprises have emerged as major employers with over 2 million such businesses employing nearly 1.1 million people.
These facts emerge from the 6th Economic Census conducted by the government in 2013, detailed results of which were released earlier this year.The economic census counts all kinds of enterprises across the country , except cultivation of crops and their care and protection. In this Census, some 5.8 crore enterprises were counted, employing over 13 crore people. The previous one was done in 2005.
The sector that's really boomed is construction, with employment growing at a breathtaking 27% per year. This is 2013 data and so doesn't reflect the subsequent travails of the sector. Trade is in itself arguably the biggest employer if one adds up wholesale trade and sale and repair of motor vehicles which the Census counted separately . Putting all three together, one gets about 1.8 crore enterprises employing 3.2 crore people, nearly 35% of all non-agricultural and non-extractive industries.
This picture of a bustling economic hive with vast numbers involved in diverse enterprise building needs to be tempered with some economic cold water. Nearly 96% of all enterprises employ one to five workers, with just 1.4% employing more than 10 workers. Compared to 2005, the share of enterprises in the 1-5 category has marginally increased. This indicates the atomized and dispersed nature of entrepreneurial activity , which, especially in the case of manufacturing, speaks of a rather low economic level. Of the three crore manufacturing enterprises, about a third, that is one crore, are working without any hired worker.
Economists have suggested earlier that retail trade is in fact a last resort for families seeking to boost incomes by selling a few items in villages or weekly haats. The transient nature of retail trade seems to be confirmed by the fact that 25% of these establishments are run from within homes and 17% are run without any fixed structure.