After months of delay, the National Bureau of Statistics, on Wednesday, finally released the Labour Statistics Report for the third quarter of this year with the unemployment rate rising from 18.8 per cent in the third quarter of last year to 23.1 per cent.
The report, which was posted on the website of the NBS, stated that the number of persons in the labour force increased from 85.1 million in the third quarter of 2017 to 90.5 million in the third quarter of 2018.
It said the total number of people classified as unemployed increased from 17.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 20.9 million in the third quarter of 2018.
Out of these 20.9 million persons classified as unemployed as of the third quarter of 2018, the bureau said 11.1 million did under 20 hours a week to be officially classified as employed while 9.7 million did absolutely nothing.
The NBS report said out of the 9.7 million unemployed that did absolutely nothing as of the third quarter of this year, 8.77 million, representing 90.1 per cent of them, were reported to be unemployed because they were first-time job seekers and had never worked before.
On the other hand, the report said 9.9 per cent of the 9.7 million that were unemployed and doing nothing at all reported they were unemployed because they were previously employed but lost their jobs at some point in the past.
It said out of the 9.7 million that were unemployed and did nothing at all, 35.0 per cent or 3.4 million had been unemployed and did nothing at all for less than a year, 17.2 per cent or 1.6 million for a year, 15.7 per cent or 1.5 million had been unemployed and did nothing for two years, and the remaining 32.1 per cent or 3.1 million unemployed persons had been unemployed doing nothing for three years and above.
It reads in part, “The economically active or working age population (15 – 64 years of age) increased from 111.1 million in Q3, 2017 to 115.5 million in Q3, 2018.
“The number of persons in the labour force (i.e. people who are able and willing to work) increased from 75.94 million in Q3 2015 to 80.66 million in Q3 2016 to 85.1 million in Q3, 2017 to 90.5 million in Q3, 2018.
“The unemployment rate accordingly, increased from 18.8 per cent in Q3 2017 to 23.1 per cent in Q3, 2018.”
The report said the total number of people with jobs increased from 69.09 million in the third quarter of 2017 to 69.54 million in the third quarter of this year.
It said the total number of people in full-time employment increased from 51.1 million in the third quarter of 2017 to 51.3 million in the third quarter of this year.
For those in part-time employment, the report said the figure decreased from 18.02 million in the third quarter of 2017 to 18.21 million.
The report said in the third quarter of this year, 23.9 per cent of rural and 21.2 per cent of urban dwellers within the labour force were unemployed.
This, it stated, indicated a decline in urban unemployment compared with the same period of 2017, and an increase in rural unemployment compared to the third quarter of last year.
It said as of the third quarter of this year, 22.8 per cent of rural residents within the labour force were underemployed, compared to 13.7 per cent of urban residents within the same period.
The NBS said the unemployment rate for young people (15-35 years) declined to 29.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 from 30.50 per cent in the second quarter.
This was, however, an increase from 13.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2015, 19.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2016 and 25.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.
It added, “Underemployment within the youth population (15-35 years) during the same quarter declined from 27.2 per cent in Q3, 2017 to 25.7 per cent in Q3, 2018.
“As of Q3 2018, 55.4 per cent of young people (15-34) were either underemployed or unemployed (doing nothing) compared to 52.6 per cent in the same period of the previous year.”
Reacting to the unemployment figure, the Head, Department of Finance, Nasarawa State University, Prof Uche Uwaleke, said that the growing unemployment figure was a confirmation that growth in the economy was still weak and not inclusive.
He said, “The chief driver, which is the oil sector, is not employment elastic. There is the need to stimulate growth in sectors that have strong linkages to job creation such as manufacturing, construction, Information and Communications Technology and agriculture.
“This will entail massive investments in infrastructure and putting in place measures to ensure that these sectors are able to access credits at single digit interest rate.
“In view of the huge number of youths who enter into the labour market each year, the government should focus on creating the right environment including investing in entrepreneurial education and skills acquisition for the high unemployment rate to go down.”
An economist and a former Director-General, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chijioke Ekechukwu, said the rise in the unemployment rate should not be a surprise to Nigerians in view of the volatile nature of the economy.
He said, “I am not surprised at the new unemployment rate of Nigeria. Going from sector to sector, it is evident that the unemployment rate should rise.
“In the banking industry, up to 40 per cent of employees lost their jobs in the last two years. Insurance, stock market and other financial services institutions have also retrenched workers at different times.
“The telecoms sector has experienced its own workers’ rationalisation in the last two years.
“The oil companies that employed a good number of employees prior to now, have laid off a reasonable number of workers and new ones are not employed.”
He added, “Lack of access to loanable funds has remained a bane in the growth and development of entrepreneurial endeavours.
The Nigeria Labour Congress said a nation that had no plan to develop its economy to accommodate the growing population and number of graduates would sooner or later experience a sharp rise in the unemployment rate.
The Head of International Relations and National Assembly Liason of the union, Uche Ekwe, told one of our correspondents that there were several sectors of the economy that could provide the needed jobs and contribute positively to the economy of the nation if they were adequately explored.
He said, “The fact remains that if you don’t have a long time clear economic plan primarily designed to create jobs that will provide opportunity for a fast growing population like ours, and for millions of youths graduating from school, it is a matter of time before you experience a sharp unemployment rate growth like this.
“In a nation where there is no enabling environment for industries to grow and create employment opportunity, you will one day experience a sharp rise in unemployment rate. There is hardly any employment opportunity beyond what the government offers in the civil service. If you do not take care of sources where employment can be generated, it is a matter of time before you find yourself in a situation like this. We have agriculture and other sectors waiting to be adequately explored.”