Companies' reduction of office space in 2012 results to 1 lakh fewer white-collar jobs

NEW DELHI: Around 1 lakh fewer white-collar jobs were created in India's top seven urban centres in 2012 compared with the previous year, if leasing or renting of new office space is considered a proxy for employment generation.
According to real estate consulting firm CBRE, the office space absorption or leasing of new space in these cities has come down from 35 million sq ft in 2011 to about 26 million sq ft in 2012. Data from Cushman & Wakefield, another international real estate consultancy, shows leasing is down from 37 million sq ft to 27 million sq ft while Jones Lang LaSalle says new office occupancy has fallen from 36 million sq ft to 28 million sq ft.

In India, the thumb rule is that a white-collar worker occupies an average space of 70 sq ft. An 8-10 million sq ft reduction in new office space occupancy during the year means 1-1.30 lakh fewer jobs have been created this year compared with 2011. The seven towns and cities covered by these consulting firms in their surveys include the National Capital Region of Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai.

The drop in new jobs mirrors the slowdown in the economy and the tepid rate of hiring in many sectors. "It is a tough situation. Hiring across sectors is down 25-30%," says Ajay Shah, general manager (sourcing) at TeamLease Services, a manpower consultancy.

While companies in the oil & gas, drugs and auto sectors saw some hiring, the biggest occupiers of space - the IT/ITes and banking & financial services sectors - witnessed a steep drop in recruitment. "IT firms have lowered hiring for future projects. Companies in other sectors have also reduced anticipatory hiring for new businesses. They are just going ahead with replacement hiring," says Ganesh Shermon, partner and head of human capital practice at KPMG India.