Another pick-up in unemployment

The latest unemployment/underemployment watch from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals that the labour force (population of working age between the ages of 15 and 64) increased to 115.5 million in Q3 2018, up 4% y/y. At the same time, the unemployment rate increased to 23.1% from 22.7% recorded in the previous quarter and 18.8% recorded in Q3 2017. The unemployment/underemployment data mirror the hazy business climate.

  • Within the labour force, 39.1 million people were either unemployed or underemployed, compared with 38.3 million in Q2 2018.
  • The younger population recorded the highest rate of unemployment. During the period under review, the unemployment rate for Nigerians within the ages of 15-34 was 29.7%.
  • Part-time employees accounted for 26% of the total number of employed within the labour force. This is considerably lower than the 35% recorded in Q2. Until the business climate improves, most business owners will remain cautious with respect to taking on additional labour.
  • The bureau’s labour statistics data also show that unemployment in the rural economy accounted for 73% of the total unemployed in Q3. Additionally, the segment of those who had never attended school stood at 26.9 million (30% of the total labour force).
  • The poor education system and lack of skill acquisition training centers have contributed to the high unemployment rate. In its maiden Human Capital Index (HCI), the World Bank ranked Nigeria 152 out of 157 countries, placing it firmly in the ‘red zone’.
  • We understand that some vacancies across specific sectors of the economy are sometimes linked to the absence of skilled labour. To boost employability, the authorities need to invest in human capital development, starting with revamping the basic education system.
  • Entrepreneurship has been identified as a solution to drive down the unemployment rate. However, given the choppy business terrain, start-ups find it difficult to thrive, particularly those that require heavy capital injection.
  • Globally, the highest unemployment rates in the data shown in the NBS report include Congo (46.1%) and Namibia (34.0%) while the lowest include Qatar (0.1%), Cambodia (0.3%) and Thailand (1.0%).

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