Nigeria’s national unemployment rate rose to about 33.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said in its latest Labor Force Statistics: Unemployment and Underemployment Report for the fourth quarter of 2020 published on Tuesday.
The statistics agency said the new rate rose from about 27.1 percent recorded during the last survey conducted in the second quarter of 2020, which also produced an underemployment rate of 28.6 percent.
In the latest survey, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Yemi Kale said although the current underemployment rate dropped to about 22.8 percent, total unemployment plus underemployment figure in the economy grew to about 40 percent in the reporting period in 2020 from 35.2 percent in the second quarter of 2020.
Highlights of the report showed that the country’s working age population (15 – 64 years) of about 122.05 million was higher by 4.3 percent than about 116.9million recorded in Q2, 2020.
In terms of the population in the labour force (15 -64 years, who are able and willing to work) the NBS said the estimated figure of about 69.7million was 13.22 percent lesser than the figure in Q2, 2020.
The NBS said of the total labour force population, persons aged between 25 and 34 topped the group, with about 20.1million, or 28.8 percent.
A further breakdown of the unemployment figures showed that those among rural dwellers stood at about 34.5 percent, up from 28.2 percent in Q2, 2020, while urban dwellers reported a rate of 31.3 percent, up from 26.4 percent.
Compared to underemployment among rural dwellers, the NBS said the figure declined from 31.5 per cent to 26.9 percent, while the corresponding figure among urban dwellers also declined from 23.2 percent in Q2, 2020 to 16.2 percent.
The report gave the total number of people currently in employment in the Nigeria economy during the reference period at about 46.5million, out of which 30.6million were in full-time employment (i.e., worked 40+ hours per week), while 15.9million were under-employed (i.e., working between 20-29 hours per week).
The figure of the employed, the report said, was about 20.6 percent less than the figure in Q2, 2020, while the unemployment rate among young people (15-34years) was 42.5 percent, up from 34.9 percent.
Similarly, the rate of underemployment for the same age group dropped to 21.0 percent, from 28.2 percent in Q2, 2020, although the report said it remained the highest when compared to other age groupings.
On a State by State basis, the report said Imo recorded the highest rate of unemployment with 56.6 percent, followed Adamawa and Cross River States with 54.9 percent and 53.7 percent respectively.
Osun recorded the lowest unemployment rate in the country with 11.7 percent, with Benue emerging as the State with the highest underemployment figure of 43.5 percent, while Lagos recorded the lowest underemployment rate, with 4.5 percent in Q4, 2020.
NBS found out that a total of about 12.2 million people did not do any work in the last seven days preceding the survey.
In clarifying the content of the report, which is likely to provoke controversies from some analysts, the NBS said a rise in the unemployment rate in the country as shown by the report did not entirely translate to an increase in job losses.
Rather, the report argued that a rise in unemployment generally meant one of two reasons: either the number of people previously outside the labour force (e.g students, housewives etc) have decided to join the search for jobs, or people previously working have lost their jobs and are now in search of jobs.
The NBS defined labour force population to cover all persons aged 15 to 64 years who are willing and able to work regardless of whether they have a job or not.
On the other hand, the agency gave the definition of unemployment as persons aged between 15 and 64) who, during the reporting period were available for work, actively seeking for work, but were without work.
The non-labour force population covers persons below 15 or older than 64, as well as those within the economically active population of between 15 and 64, who are unable to work, not actively seeking for work, or choose not to work and/or are not available for work.
Underemployment, however occurs if one works less than full-time hours, which is 40 hours a week, but work at least 20 hours on average a week and /or if one works full time, but are engaged in an activity that underutilizes one’s skills, time, and educational qualifications.