Amidst Rising Economic Crisis, Nigeria’s Unemployment Rate Rises To 5%

Despite the general economic hardship ravaging the country, with businesses shutting down, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has disclosed that the nation’s unemployment rate rose slightly to five per cent in the third quarter of 2023.

This is a 0.8 per cent increase over the 4.2 per cent recorded in the second quarter 2023.

It also reported that the percentage of youth Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET Rate) was 13.7 per cent in Q3 2023.

The statistics house had earlier drawn the ire of the people when it first reported in its fourth quarter 2022 and first quarter 2023 Nigeria Labour Force Survey report that Nigeria’s unemployment rate dropped from 33.1 per cent in 2021 when the last survey was conducted to 5.3 in fourth quarter 2022 and to 4.1 per cent in first quarter 2023.

The NBS had then claimed the sharp drop-in unemployment rate was because it adopted a new methodology that conforms with international standards approved by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

According to the NBS then, “Following guidelines adopted during the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) in Geneva in 2013, the new methodology considered employed persons as those who engaged in at least one hour of work during the last seven days the survey was conducted.

The new Labour force survey report says labour force participation rate among the working-age population declined to 79.5 per cent in Q3 2023 compared to 80.4 per cent in Q2 2023. The report said, “The employment-to-population ratio was 75.6 per cent in Q3 2023 with a decrease of 1.5 per cent compared to a ratio of Q2 2023.

“The combined rate of unemployment and time-related underemployment as a share of the labour force population (LU2) increased to 17.3 per cent in Q3 2023 from 15.5 percent in Q2 2023.”

It noted that about 87.3 per cent of workers were self-employed in Q3 2023, while the proportion of workers in Wage Employment in Q3 2023 was 12.7 per cent. It said the rate of unemployment among persons with post-secondary education was 7.8 per cent in Q3 2023

“The unemployment rate among youth aged (15-24 years) was 8.6 percent in Q3 2023, an increase of 1.4 percent compared to Q2 2023. The unemployment rate in urban areas was 6.0 percent in Q3 2023, a slight increase of 0.1 per cent from Q2 2023.

“Time-related underemployment in Q3 2023 was 12.3 percent, showing a slight increase of 0.5 per cent from the rate recorded in Q2 2023. This shows an increase of 1.4 per cent compared to the rate in Q4 2022. 4.1 per cent of the working-age population was in subsistence agriculture in Q3 2023, while informal employment rate in Q3 2023 was 92.3 per cent, as against Q2 2023 figure of 92.7 per cent.

Since the inception of the present administration on May 29, 2023, the nation has witnessed an unprecedented rise in the cost of living with energy costs and high exchange rate forcing many businesses to shut down or exit the country. Last year, a former Statistician General of the Federation, Yemi Kale had described the NBS figures as completely out of touch with reality.

“If the government’s aim is to provide gainful employment, then you must measure gainful employment,” he said, using his X handle. You can’t plan for gainful employment and measure something else because of so-called international standards when various countries have different priorities. Yes, do your international comparison but you must more importantly also provide for local demands/policies.

“When we understand that the primary purpose of data is not politics or ego boosting/chest-thumping but evidence-based policy and to understand the problems and proffer solutions and then monitor success of those policies we will get it.”

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