Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, has said that plans are underway to launch a roadmap for removing 80 percent of unemployed youths from the streets. Because of this, she challenged top managers at the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to set up for the coming challenge. At the ongoing Lagos International Trade Fair, with the theme: “Connecting Businesses, Creating Value,” which is being held in the nation’s economic capital, Abuja, the minister promised a new NDE to execute the job.
She stressed NDE crucial role in tackling unemployment through provision of skills and entrepreneurship opportunities for young Nigerians. In a statement issued on November 9, 2023 by her Special Adviser on Media, Emameh Gabriel, Onyejeocha urged NDE managers to focus on combating unemployment without compromise. According to her, the President has given a clear mandate to address the challenge decisively. She ordered that NDE trainees must be empowered with a reasonable starter pack to take them off the street.
Revision of methodology in the new employment stat survey.
On August 24, 2023, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published a press release on the Nigeria Labour Force Survey (NLFS) for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2022 and Q1 of 2023. According to the report, the new NLFS unveils a set of labour force indicators designed to provide unparalleled insights into the dynamics of the workforce in Nigeria. The NBS conducted the NLFS in collaboration with the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in response to the labour market dynamics.
Presenting an in-depth analysis of key labour market indicators, including unemployment, underemployment, informal employment and hours worked, the NBS embarked on a revision of the methodology through the adoption of the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) ‘‘Resolution concerning statistics of work, employment, unemployment, and labour underutilisation,” and the latest ILO model questionnaire which includes unemployment among persons engaged in ‘‘Own Consumption work.” The revised methodology aligns with other countries in Africa such as Ghana, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Benin Republic, Gambia, etc.
New methodology redefines key terms in the report.
Despite the backlash from different quarters, the statistics agency said that the enhanced methodology was informed by the need to produce comparable labour statistics and focuses on the review of definitions and concepts, data collection, coverage, etc. According to the report, employed persons are those working for pay or profit and those that worked for at least one hour in the last seven days. It considers an underemployed person as someone who works less than 40 hours per week and declares himself willing and available to work more.
Then, unemployed persons are defined as those not in employment but actively searching and are available for work. In other words, these are people who did nothing for pay or profit. In addition, the report sets the working-age population at ages 15 and above, and a distinction is made between commercial and subsistence agriculture in the revised methodology. This is in contrast to the old methodology which defines the working-age population as those within the age bracket of 15-64 years, considering those working between 20 and 39 hours as underemployed, and those working between 1 and 19 hours as unemployed (including those who did nothing).
Unemployment rate brought backlash to the NBS.
The key highlights of the survey which brought backlash was the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in Q4 2022 and 4.1 percent in Q1 2023. This aligns with the rates in other developing countries where work, even if only for a few hours and in low-productivity jobs, is essential to make ends meet, particularly in the absence of any social protection for the unemployed. Also, about three-quarters of working-age Nigerians were employed — 73.6 percent in Q4 2022 and 76.7 percent in Q1 2023, indicating that most people were engaged in some type of job for at least one hour in a week, for pay or profit. Despite this, the reality of employment in the country leaves many questions unanswered.
National Bureau of Statistics: Website