Declining Rupee Damages Expat Employment Opportunities

Between April and July speculation regarding the Federal Reserve tapering its easing programme caused emerging market currencies (which have been boosted by the Fed’s bond-buying) to tumble.

The Rupee led the way among weakening Asian currencies, sliding from 54 Rupees per Dollar to record lows of over 61 per Dollar.

Although the Reserve Bank of India has taken steps to temper the Rupee’s volatility over the past few weeks, the currency’s bearish relationship with peers including the US Dollar is continuing.

A major concern has been what affect the weaker Rupee will have on India’s mammoth current account deficit and slowing growth, but it also seems that if the currency doesn’t recoup losses soon expat employment opportunities could be severely dented.

According to a report compiled by The Economic Times, up until the Rupee’s drop occurred an Indian life sciences company was using a recruitment firm to track down a suitable expat candidate for a top level position, carrying a salary of between $250,000 and $300,000.

However, with the floundering Rupee upping the cost of hiring an expat, the company changed its mind.

As one spokesman for the recruitment firm initially tasked with finding an expat observed: ‘They made up their minds not to proceed. Instead of expats, they gave us a fresh mandate to look for Indians with experience.’

And this seems to be an increasingly common turn of events.

Hiring agencies have estimated that the hiring of expats across all sectors/experience levels is down by 15-20 per cent. They also stated that the estimate was conservative, and that the situation could worsen in the weeks and months ahead.

Rajesh Kumar of commented: ‘We have seen some decline in expat hiring activity at the beginning of the year [...] Before that, expat hiring was increasing at 10-15 per cent annually during the past five years.’

Similarly, Balchandra Variar of Transearch asserted: ‘Now expats are getting hired only when the stakes are high, like when certain companies are making big investments and want expats to come in with expertise. The first preference is for Indian-origin people who have worked abroad and are now looking to return.’

In a recent study of expat hiring it was estimated that India is home to roughly 46,000 expats, down from 49,000 last year. Hiring has dipped across sectors including retail, IT and infrastructure.

But with sources indicating that an expat employee could command a 30 per cent higher salary than a local doing the same job, is it surprising that some companies are looking closer to home when it comes to taking on new staff?

What do you think? Are expat employment opportunities decreasing in India?

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