Nigeria unable to create the 1.5 million jobs to keep the unemployment rate in check

By David Ndukwe

THE NBS released its unemployment and under-employment watch report of the first quarter (Q1) of 2016. The number of unemployed in the labour force, increased by 1.45 million 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 therefore unable to create the 1.5 million jobs required between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 to keep the unemployment rate constant at 10.4% in Q4 2015.

Underemployment however occurs if you work less than full time which is 40 hours but work at least 20 hours on average a week and /or if you work full time but are engaged in an activity that underutilizes your skills, time and educational qualifications.

The number of underemployed in the labour force increased by 607 thousand persons resulting in an increase in the underemployment rate to 19.1% in Q1 2016 (15.02 million persons) from 18.7% (14.41 million) in Q4 2015. This increase in underemployment is in line with an increasing trend of informal sector job creation outpacing formal sector job creation forcing people to settle for less preferred underemployment, but it also included those that choose to work fewer hours or not be engaged in work full time for various reasons.

Unemployment Q1
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%. This means an additional 1.5 million economically active persons within 15-64 entered the labour force. This consisted of newly qualified graduates, new entrants into the economically active population actively seeking work and previous members of the economically active population that choose not to work for whatever reasons in earlier periods. The number of those not willing or able, or not actively looking to work in the economically active population however declined to 27.5 million in Q1 2016 from 28.06 million in Q4 2015 meaning about 0.55 million people in the working age population that choose not to work in Q4 2015 decided to work in Q1 2016 thereby adding to the labour force. This represents the third consecutive decline in the number of people not willing to work in the economically active population.

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.

As usual, unemployment and underemployment was highest for persons in the labour force between the ages of 15-34 years which represents the youth population in the labour force.

The unemployment rate within the review period was typically highest for those within the ages of 15-24 at 21.5% in Q1 2016, up from 19.0% in Q4 2015, while the underemployment rate for those within the ages 15-24 increased slightly to 34.6% in Q1 2016 from 34.5% in Q4 2015. For those in the labour force within the ages of 25-34 however, unemployment rose to 12.9% in Q1 2016, from 11.4% in Q4 2015, while underemployment remained at 19.9% in Q1 2016 similar to Q4 2015.

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 (15% urban unemployment compared to 10.8% rural unemployment) given the preference of graduates to search for formal white collar jobs located mostly in urban centres.

Data Source: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)