Unemployment steadily rising

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 108.59 million in Q4 2016 from 108.03 million recorded in Q3. At the same time, the unemployment rate accelerated to 14.2% from 13.9% recorded in the previous quarter. The unemployment situation mirrors the country’s persistent macro challenges.

Within the labour force, 28.6 million people were either unemployed or underemployed, compared with 27.1 million in Q3 2016.

The youth population recorded the highest rate of unemployment. During the period under review, the unemployment rate for Nigerians within the ages of 15-25 was 25.2%.

We notice that graduates are still struggling to secure decent paying jobs. According to the NBS, only 58% of Nigerians within this group were fully employed in Q4.

To drive down the unemployment rate, policymakers have identified entrepreneurship as a solution. However, the country’s business climate is not conducive to start-ups to thrive, particularly those that require heavy capital injections.

President Buhari’s 2017 budget speech reiterated the FGN’s commitment to addressing the country’s unemployment. Its plans to diversify the economy are expected to create more jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and the solid minerals segment.

Additionally, the FGN intends to prioritise human capital development. To this end, it has expressed its willingness to collaborate with the private sector to establish and operate technical and vocational education institutes across the country.

Furthermore, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-20 prioritizes job creation through the deepening of the existing N-Power Jobs Creation programme as well as launching new.

The dearth of robust data poses a risk to proper implementation of the FGN’s job generating programmes.

Globally, the highest unemployment rates in data shown in this NBS report include Djibouti (54.0%) and Kenya (40.0%) while the lowest include Qatar (0.2%), Cambodia (0.5%) and Thailand (1.2%).

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