The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has released first quarter (Q1) 2016 data showing that unemployment rose to 12.1% in Q1 2016 from 10.4% in Q4 2015.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has previously forecast a global unemployment rate of 5.9% this year and next, compared with 5.5% before the global financial crisis in 2007, implying that Nigeria’s Q1 2016 unemployment rate of 12.1% (not including an additional 19.1% underemployment) is higher than the global average.
According to the NBS report “the number of unemployed in the labour force, increased by 1,449,18 persons between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 resulting in an increase in the unemployment rate to 12.1% in Q1 2016 from 10.4% in Q4 2015, 9.9% in Q3 2015 and 8.2% in Q2 2015.”
Nigeria was unable to create the 1.5million jobs required between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 to keep the unemployment rate constant at 10.4% in Q4 2015.
With an economically active or working age population of 106.0million and labour force population of 78.4million in Q1 2016, 27.5milllion persons within the economically active or working age population decided not to work for various reasons in Q1 2016 compared to 28.06million in Q4 2015 and consequently are not part of the labour force and cannot be technically considered unemployed or underemployed, even though they were not working.
Accordingly, there were a total of 24.50million persons between the ages of 15-64 that were willing and able to work and actively seeking work (i.e in the labour force) that were either unemployed or underemployed compared to 22.45million in Q4 2015, and 20.73 million in Q3 2015.
The report also shows that the economically active population or working age population (persons within ages 15- 64) increased from 105.02 million in Q4 2015 to 106.0 million in Q1 2016.
In Q1 2016, the labour force population increased to 78.4 million from 76.9million in Q4 2015, representing in an increase in the labour force by 1.99%.
Further analysis shows that the drop in full time employment between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 was predominantly those within the ages 15- 24 years accounting for a decline of 0.56million people followed by ages 55-64 years (decline of 0.09million), ages 45-54 years (decline of 0.06mn) and ages 35-44 years (decline of 0.02mn). On the other hand, the number of those in full time employment between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016, within ages 25-34 increased by 0.22million.
The data also shows that there are other dimensions to the unemployment problem. Unemployment and underemployment continued to be higher for women than men in Q1 2016. While 14% of women in the labour force were unemployed in Q1 2016, another 22.2% of women in the labour force were underemployed in Q1 2016. On the other hand, 10.3% of males were unemployed in Q3 2015, while another 16.2% of males in the labour force were underemployed.
In terms of location, while underemployment continues to be more of a rural phenomenon (23.5% rural underemployment compared to 9.5% urban underemployment) given the nature of their jobs largely as seasonal farmers, unemployment is more of a concern in urban areas given the preference of graduates to search for formal white collar jobs located mostly in urban centres.
But unemployment is not a problem unique to Nigeria. Unemployment is not just a Nigerian problem. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) on whose recommendation most countries in the world unemployment methodology is based including Nigeria, states that 201 million people globally are unemployed and this may rise to 219 million by 2019.
The highest unemployment rate in the world is recorded in Djibouti (54%), Congo (46%), Bosnia and Herzegovinian (43%), Haiti (41%), Afghanistan (40%) and Kenya (40%) while
the lowest are found in Qatar (0.2%), Cambodia (0.3%), Belarus(1%), Benin (1.0%), Thailand (1.04%), Madagascar (1.2%) Laos (1.4%) and Guinea Bissau(1.8%).