Computing Nigeria’s Unemployment Statistics


National Bureau of Statistics plans to review the definition and methodology of computing unemployment statistics in Nigeria which currently stands at 20.3 million

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Sep. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, is to review the definition and methodology of computing unemployment statistics in Nigeria. Yemi Kale, statistician-general dropped this hint on Monday, September 8, while speaking at a workshop in Abuja. He said the Nigerian economy had created 2.48 million new jobs between July 2012 and June this year.

A breakdown of the figure reveals that the highest number of jobs, that is, 1.41 million, was created in the informal sector while the formal sector created 903,804 jobs and the public institutions were responsible for 160,591 jobs. A further analysis has also revealed that 427,296 and 385,913 jobs were created in the third and fourth quarters of 2012. For the first, second, third and fourth quarters of 2013, the bureau put the new jobs created at 431,021; 221,054; 245,989 and 265,702, respectively. In the first and second quarters of this year, the NBS said 240,871 and 259,353 new jobs were created in various sectors of the economy, respectively.

“In the first quarter of 2014, the formal sector recorded 76,018 new jobs; the informal sector recorded 158,894 new jobs, while the public sector recorded 5,959 new jobs. The total new jobs for quarter one of 2014 was, therefore, 240,871. This is a decrease by 10.3 percent from the previous quarter, which recorded 265,702 jobs, and lower than the 431,021 jobs created in the corresponding quarter of 2013,” he said.

According to Kale, the number of jobs created in the formal sector in the first quarter of 2014 was also lower than the 101,597 jobs created in the previous quarter and the 174,326 jobs created in the corresponding quarter of 2013. The education (private) sector, he noted, dominated the formal sector with the most number of jobs, accounting for 23,643, or 31 per cent of the total share.


This, according to him, is followed by manufacturing sector, with 11,088 jobs, representing 14.6 percent. “Electricity, gas steam and air conditioning supply sector with 12 jobs, and water supply, sewage, waste management and remediation sector with 12 jobs, created the least jobs in the first quarter of 2013.” For the second quarter of this year, the NBS boss said the formal sector recorded 78,755 new jobs with 175,786 in the informal sector while the public sector had 4,812.

He said as was the case in the first quarter, the education and manufacturing sectors dominated the formal sector with the most number of jobs, accounting for 29,060 or 36.9 percent and 11,138 or 14.14 percent, respectively. Kale noted that the telecommunications and information services sector, with 12 new jobs, and the accommodation and food services sector, with 57 fresh jobs, had the least share of jobs created in the second quarter.

But Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, does not share in the rosy picture painted by the NBS.  She said in April this year that more than 5.3 million youths were jobless in the country, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year. She put the number of jobless Nigerians at 20.3 million. Okonjo-Iweala explained that the unemployment figure had been accumulating over the years.

She said that “the nation’s inability to track the number of people coming into the labour market is part of the problem of managing the new entrants into the market.” The minister’s explanation is not far from the truth. However, the worsening employment crisis in the country is partly a reflection of government’s inability to design policies that would create more jobs, or provide an enabling environment that could encourage both individuals and the private sector to expand employment opportunities without let or hindrance.

If government needed to know the gravity of the nation’s unemployment rate, especially graduate unemployment, the trampling of graduate job-seekers to death during stampedes at the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, recruitment drive across the country early this year, presents a graphic picture of the problem. That incident, alone, showed that something needs to be done urgently to address the scourge of unemployment in the country.  It is disheartening that despite repeated claims by the federal government that it has been able to create 1.6 million jobs, there is no demonstrable evidence that that figure has done much to reduce the rate of unemployment and poverty level in the country.  Instead, the contrary appears to be the case.

This pathetic situation was reflected in the World Bank statistics last year which put the number of Nigerians living in destitution at 100 million, while its latest report released early this year, put Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world. The high rate of unemployment and low per capita income in the country are just two of the indices used by the World Bank in arriving at its assessment of the poverty level in Nigeria.

The question many Nigerian youths and unemployed graduates are asking is, who are those who benefited from the jobs said to have been created?  Unemployment and poverty have become serious problems which require all levels of government to tackle with sincerity of purpose to keep the nation’s youths productively engaged, and out of avoidable trouble.


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