More than a quarter of Nigeria’s workers were out of a job in the second quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday, in the country’s first unemployment data published since 2018.
The unemployment rate stood at 27.1% in the second quarter. It was 23.1% in the previous report, which dates back to the third quarter of 2018. Second-quarter unemployment among young people aged 15-34 was the highest at 34.9%. The data showed that in total, 58.5 million people were employed during the period, 35.6 million of them full time.
Nigeria has been hard-hit by the fallout from the new coronavirus pandemic, grappling not only with its own outbreak but also from a plunge in oil prices after lockdowns worldwide.
The country had 48,116 confirmed cases and 966 deaths as of Friday. Oil prices, which account for more than half of government revenue and 90% of foreign reserves, fell close to 20-year lows in the second quarter and remain more than 20% below their January peak.
Cheta Nwanze, lead partner with consultancy SBM Intelligence, said the figures were concerning for a country of 200 million, particularly the youth unemployment figures.
“In a country with a median age of 19, these portend a bad future as potential socio-economic issues such as increased crime and social unrest will come to the fore as more able-bodied people look to forcefully take what they need to live,” he said.
Nigeria entered the pandemic without having fully recovered from a 2016 recession that left more than 13 million people unemployed.
The World Bank has warned Nigeria faces a recession that will be “much more pronounced” than in 2016 and potentially the nation’s worst financial crisis in four decades. Reuters