Nigeria’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 33.3% – Highest in Over 13 Years


Nigeria’s unemployment rate is the second-highest in the world.

One in three Nigerians able and willing to work had no jobs in the fourth quarter of 2020, according the National Bureau of Statistics.

The bureau reported Monday that Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 33.3 per cent, translating to some 23.2 million people, the highest in at least 13 years and the second-highest rate in the world.

The figure jumped from 27.1 per cent recorded in the second quarter amidst Nigeria’s lingering economic crisis made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment rate in the country has more than quadrupled since 2016 when the economy slipped into a recession. A second recession occurred in 2020.

The federal government in its Economic Sustainability Plan had predicted that the rate of unemployment would rise to 33.6 per cent at the end of 2020 if urgent steps were not taken.

The new rate means that prediction held largely true, missed only by a margin of 0.3 per cent.

The statistics bureau said the economically active or working-age population (15 – 64 years of age) increased from 117 million in the second quarter to 122 million in Q4 2020, a 4.3 percent increase.

The report shows the number of persons in the labour force (people within ages 15 -64, who are able and willing to work) was estimated to be 69.7 million.

Of this number, those within the age bracket of 25-34 were highest at 28.8 per cent of the labour force.

The total number of people in employment during the reference period was 46.5 million, of which 30.6 million were in full-time employment (i.e., worked 40+ hours per week), while 15.9 million were underemployed (i.e., working between 20-29 hours per week).

While the unemployment rate increased, the underemployment rate, however, declined from 28.6 per cent in Q2 to 22.8 per cent.

Unemployment in the states

Across the states, Imo reported the highest rate of unemployment with 56.6 per cent, followed by Adamawa and Cross River with 54.9 per cent and 53.7 per cent respectively.

Osun had the lowest rate at 11.7 per cent.

Underemployment was more prevalent in Benue than elsewhere, with 43.5 per cent. Lagos recorded the lowest underemployment rate, with 4.5 per cent.

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