June 13, 2024

Stakeholders, yesterday, in Abuja raised concerns over Nigeria’s single-digit unemployment claim and the loopholes in unemployment data.

The stakeholders, who gathered at an event organised by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) on the need to understand the new Nigerian labour force statistics, said with a mere five per cent of Nigerians in formal employment and over 90 per cent in the informal sector, Nigeria has more to worry about.

Also raising the red flag on the low rate of women in formal employment and the high rate of young Nigerians in unemployment, the new labour statistics, they said could affect adequate planning.

Nigeria’s unemployment rate was put at five per cent in the third quarter of 2023 with the informal accounting for 92.7 per cent.

The stakeholders noted that the quality of work remained questionable as most people engage in anything only to feed as the country has no social interventions.

The stakeholders noted that there are also concerns that the country’s most vibrant people who are graduates are the most affected by unemployment conditions.

They were also worried about government interventions or palliative and the population that are beneficiaries while stressing the need for policymakers to critically put statistics side by side along with their decisions.

President of the Nigerian Economic Society, Prof Adeola Adenikinju, said the current template could be deceptive in an environment where people pay attention to figures instead of deeper understanding.

He asked for a proper breakdown of the labour data, adding that politicians would only think they are performing and conclude that the level of unemployment is less.

Executive Director of CSEA, Dr Chukwuka Onyekwena, said the value of accurate and reliable labour force statistics cannot be overstated, especially in a country as large and diverse as Nigeria.

Onyekwena noted that producing high-quality labour force statistics is a large feat, adding that it requires strong methodologies, stringent data collection approaches, and advanced analytical tools.

He stated the data necessitate a thorough understanding of the social, economic, and political forces that shape the Nigerian context.

“With a population of over 200 million people and a fast-expanding labour force, Nigeria faces unique challenges and opportunities in realising the full potential of its human capital. “Understanding the labour market dynamics allows policymakers to devise strategies to stimulate job creation, boost workforce skills, and increase productivity, resulting in inclusive growth and reduced poverty and inequality,” he stated.

According to him, Nigeria can chart a course toward better policy formulation with economic implications by deepening the understanding of the most recent developments in Nigerian labour force statistics and encouraging collaboration and dialogue among diverse stakeholders.

Senior economist at the World Bank, Dr Godstime Eighiremolen, said the bank relies strongly on data like that of NBS to get people out of poverty with statistics-based evidence.

According to him, in a country like Nigeria without social interventions, people go into the streets and find something to do, even if they are getting N1,500 in a day.

He noted that the quality of jobs people are doing is sacrosanct especially if people must move from poverty.



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