Covid-19: Employment In Africa’s Biggest Economy Isn’t Getting Any Better

By  |  August 15, 2020

When it comes to employment in Nigeria, the numbers are always grim. But things have never been worse, at least not in the last 5 to 10 years. The number of jobless people in the country has increased more than three-fold in the last half decade.

Finally releasing the recent official statistics for the unemployment rate of Africa’s largest economy, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reports a 27.1 percent increase in the number of Nigerians without work. From 20.93 million in Q3 2018, the figure has risen to 21.77 million in Q2 2020.

The data which was released after an interval of 20 months reflects the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the West African country’s job market, exacerbating the given that 1 of every 2 Nigerians are either unemployed or underemployed.

It is no secret that Nigeria’s job market is an overcrowded one, even as NBS’s figures show more millions of youths are without good-paying jobs. What’s worse, businesses that want to survive the economic effects of Covid-19 have contributed to a further complexity.

Companies have opted layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs as an unavoidable means to weather the pandemic storm. Now, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was in an alarming state before the outbreak of the virus and its impacts on businesses who take many Nigerians into the labor market.

“It was difficult enough for the average young person in Nigeria to secure dignified work pre-COVID. However, the pandemic has made the process even more complicated, especially with the fact that a lot of companies have had to cut costs by slashing salaries or letting go of employees,” Hilda Kragha, CEO at Jobberman, told WeeTracker in May.

According to Jobberman, a Nigerian based job portal and career platform, when a large commercial bank advertised 80 entry-level jobs on the platform recently, more than 21,000 people applied in a space of just 48 hours.

In the public sector, the numbers are worse. In January, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) advertised for 5,000 positions; it was swamped with 1.4 million applications in a matter of days.

At the beginning of March, Nigeria’s job listings decreased by 7 percent as a result of the coronavirus-hampered economic activity, further enabled for lockdowns and cut-down recruitment budgets.

The new figures from the National Bureau of Statistics say that the number of people with employment stood at 58.52 million, while 22.94 million people were engaged in time-related jobs or underemployed. 35.59 million Nigerians currently have full-time employment.

“An increase in labour force size can lead to rise in unemployment rate. What causes an increase in labour force? The labour force does not change simply from job losses, since those people previously had jobs and were already in the labour market, which does not change as a result of them losing their jobs.

Rather, what causes an expansion in the size of the labour force is the increase in the number of persons within the working age population, who were previously not willing or able to work, but who are now available and actively looking for work,” the report said.

Photo: Hennie Stander Via Unsplash.

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