New Delhi: Even as food inflation fell to below one percent in mid-December, the country's Chief Statistician TCA Anant on Friday said the overall price rise still remains a concern, and the impact of economic slowdown may be gradually felt in employment numbers.

"... there is still a concern (on inflation), a concern which has also been expressed by the Finance Minister," Anant told reporters here at release event of provisional results of the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) 2009-10.

He refused, however, to make any projections regarding the inflation numbers for the year-end.

His comments came a day after food inflation plunged to 0.42 percent, lowest since April 2006.

However, overall inflation, which also factors in manufactured products, fuel and non-food primary items, has remained near double digit since December 2010. It was 9.11 percent in November.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the moderation in the rate of price rise of food items will help bring down the headline inflation to around 6 percent by March 2012.

Anant also said that the slowdown in economic growth and industrial production may also impact the job situation in the country.

"The impact of slowdown is not immediately felt in the employment numbers but the process is gradual as most the jobs are in sector like consumer goods. If the slowdown continues this year, it will have a bigger impact on employment," he said.

Anant, however, termed the country's growth as "still robust" and said that in the first half (April-September) the economy has expanded by 7.3 percent.

"But there are concerns on both the global and domestic fronts," he added.

Economic growth in the second quarter of this fiscal was 6.9 percent, lowest in over two years. Industrial production, meanwhile, entered the negative zone and contracted by 5.1 percent in October.

"The government has taken a number of steps including framing of new manufacturing policy and such measures should show results. Besides, we will have be entering the 12th Five Year Plan and during the initial phase of any Plan the growth is good," Anant said.

On FIIs, the Chief Statistician said that the affect of the recent huge withdrawals by them would take some time to reflect in the economic data.

"FIIs withdrawal is at the portfolio level. For it to show impact at the company's level will take time, maybe a year or two," Anant said.

Asked if the negative growth in October IIP data could see a revision, he replied in the affirmative but added that it would not be hugely different from the original estimate.

On complaints from various quarters including the Reserve Bank over the inconsistency and volatility in the IIP data, Anant said that the factory output numbers are based on quick estimates and with a fixed sample size.

"The IIP has a fixed index and a fixed set of entities are contacted, which means no new entities are included. Besides, IIP also mainly factors in large units which have a lesser rate of growth," he said, adding that monthly industrial data across all countries in the world is volatile.

"So one needs to look at a longer term rather than comparing monthly figures. However, in the last 15 months, whichever way you look, there is a marked softening in industrial activity," Anant said.

The Chief Statistician added that a study is underway to compare the annual ASI figures and the IIP data as well as to look at the relationship between large units and small growth.

(Agencies)