Unemployment: Imo, Akwa Ibom, Rivers Top Index | TimeTestedNews

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Unemployment rate in Nigeria rose to 27.1 per cent in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020 up from the 23.1 per cent recorded in Q3, 2018 with Imo, Akwa Ibom and Rivers States leading the pack.

According to the latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), underemployment rate increased from 20.1% in Q3, 2018 to 28.6 per cent

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NBS said a combination of both the unemployment and underemployment rate for the reference period gave a figure of 55.7 per cent, meaning that 27.1 per cent of the labour force in Nigeria or 21,764,617 million persons either did nothing or worked for less than 20 hours a week, making them unemployed.

Imo State reported the highest rate of unemployment with 48.7 per cent, followed by Akwa Ibom and Rivers with 45.2 per cent and 43.7 per cent respectively.

The state with the lowest rate was Anambra with 13.1 per cent.

Imo has a total of 1,209,882 million unemployed labour force; Akwa Ibom State has the second highest number of unemployed people as almost half of its total labour force is currently unemployed.

Out of the 2,534,495 million (total) labour force of the oil rich state, 1,144,399 million or 45.2 per cent are in unemployment.

Out of its total 3,921,860 million labour force population, Rivers State recorded 1,714,189 million or 43.7 per cent.

Kaduna and Kano States have 1,339,952 million and 1,424,686 unemployment rates respectively, accounting for 39.8 and 31.6 per cent of their total labour force accordingly.

The statistics office said it decided to deploy the use of computer assisted telephone interview system to conduct the survey based on the restriction of movement across the country due to COVID-19 pandemic.

For the period under review, Q2, 2020, the unemployment rate among young people (15-34years) was 34.9 per cent, up from 29.7 per cent, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2 per cent from 25.7 per cent in Q3, 2018. These rates were the highest when compared to other age groupings.

NBS explained that during the reference period, the computed national unemployment rate rose from 23.1% in Q3, 2018 to 27.1,while, while the underemployment rate increased from 20.1% to hit 28.6%.

However, it said the number of persons in the economically active or working age population (15 – 64 years of age) during the reference period of the survey, Q2, 2020 was 116,871,186.

This, the bureau noted, is 1.2 per cent higher than the e) State unemployment is a “moment-in-time” index only and can change quite quickly.

“It is therefore, movement across State borders, as job seekers search for employment or economic opportunities figure recorded in Q3, 2018, which was 115,492,969”, it added.

The number of persons in the labour force (i.e. people within ages 15 -64, who are able and willing to work) was estimated to be 80,291,894. This was 11.3% less than the number persons in Q3, 2018.

Of this number, the NBS said those within the age bracket of 25-34 were highest, with 23,328,460 or 29.1% of the labour force.

The total number of people in employment (i.e. people with jobs) during the reference period was dwellers.

It rose to 31.5% from 22.8%, while the rate among urban dwellers rose to 23.2% from 58,527,276. Of this number, 35,585,274 were full-time employed (i.e. worked 40+ hours per week), while 22,942,003 were under-employed (i.e. working between 20-29 hours per week).

NBS said this figure is 15.8% less than the people in employment in Q3, 2020

It added that a total number of 16,285 interviews were completed out of the initial sample of 18,500, giving a response rate of 88% at the end of the survey.

Meanwhile, finance experts and economists have raised serious concerns over consistent job loss and increasing unemployment in the country, saying the development has continued to threaten economic stability and distabilise the peace and security of  the country.

The Nigerian economy as well as the global economy have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as companies were closing shops in their thousands, thereby, throwing millions of Nigerians into the labour market.

Similarly, the existing companies were not in a strong financial position to retain their entire workforce; hence, they had to disengage some workers to operate within their current financial means even though, unemployment was already growing pre-COVID-19.

Experts noted that the challenging business operating environment has forced companies to lay off staff in a bid to reduce their operating cost by sending some people into the labour market.

Speaking to our correspondent yesterday, a finance expert, Professor Chris Onalo, said job loss did not only start today, or was because of coronavirus.

He said before now, companies in public and private sectors as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were finding the operating business environment too harsh to maintain an over bloated workforce.

He said unemployment is a threat to economic growth and development as well as breeding security threat, just as he advised government to make operating environment conducive through friendly fiscal and monetary policies to allow SMEs which are largely the highest employers of labour in the country thrive.

While expressing skepticism over the 21.7 million figure of unemployed Nigerians provided by the NBS, he said since companies were not publicising the figure of workforce they retrenched it is hazy to understand how the agency arrived at the said figure.

He said, “If the figure provided by NBS is true, then the job loss is an economic and security threats that must be dispassionately addressed on time through policy interventions that will make operating environment favourable for businesses to thrive.”

Onalo, who is also the Registrar/Chief Executive of Institute of Credit Administration of Nigeria (ICA), warned government and its agencies to desist from giving alarming information in a bid to be relevant.

He implored government to work on ensuring viability of data it is giving out, just like it is being done in developed economies.

“Job loss is a global challenge, not only in Nigeria. In the US and U.K., companies publicly declare the number of retrenched staff which forms the basis of statistics they churn out. But in Nigeria, companies are not releasing such information and if they are not giving out this information, how did NBS arrive at its figure?” He queried.

Similarly, the national vice president, Nigerian Association Of Chamber Of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Alhaji Ahmad Rabiu, in an interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend yesterday said, unemployment creates restiveness and insecurity in any society, adding that in a country of 200 million people, having about 11 per cent of the population implies having over 30 per cent unemployment of active employable population.

He noted: “Unemployment has a negative multiplier effect on the economy. Unemployed persons cannot afford to buy food, water, use services like transport, among others.

“Any time a new person gets employed, his earnings from the employment gives him capacity to buy goods and services. We can see this even at macro level.”

The way out of this quagmire, according to him, is for government to continue to address gaps that are leading to job losses.

He urged government to rid the society of corruption by making it unattractive due to clear measures put in place to fight it.

With reduced corruption, he said, there will be good governance and all things will begin to work and the environment sanitised.

“Most of our gaps in infrastructure can be sourced through PPP and private sector can fund and invest in it. The present environment is not conducive due to wanton corruption with impunity. PMB has done greatly with his team, but the citizens are only paying lip service to it,” Rabiu who is also the managing director of Dala Inland Dry Port Nigeria Limited pointed out.

Meanwhile, the federal government has called for social dialogue between employers and employees in the Aviation industry to prevent job losses.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, made the call during a conciliatory meeting with airline operators and the trade unions in the aviation industry to discuss contentious issues especially pay cut and laying off of workers.

According to a statement signed by deputy director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Charles Akpan, the minister appealed to them to join hands to make sure there were no job losses in that industry.

He said the cardinal principle of this administration is to prevent job losses.

“The government on its part will honour its obligation to the industry by providing palliatives in the form of tax reduction, tax exemption, and elimination of custom duties on aircraft spares and logistics. The Central Bank of Nigeria will also provide stimulus package to encourage the operators in the industry,” Ngige said.

He commended the efforts of the airline operators, especially Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters, in keeping faith and paying the salaries and allowances of their staff, when necessary, for the period of the COVID-19 epidemic.

He urged the operators to allow their employees exercise their right to unionisation as Section 40 of Nigerian Constitution guaranteed that.

“We encourage the airline operators to allow members of staff who desire to go into unions to do so, as belonging to unions is a voluntary thing. Obstructing them from doing so is to curtail their fundamental rights as enshrined in our Constitution,” the minister said.

Ngige however noted that the management of Air Peace, the minister of Aviation and the trade unions had already agreed that Air Peace would dialogue with their workers on the re-absorption of some of the sacked pilots and engineers.

He also added that those who had already got employment elsewhere would be allowed to go peacefully with their entitlement.

Ngige further directed the unions in Turkish Airlines to forward in writing their complaints about victimisation of officers in the unions to the Minister of Aviation, and copy the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The minister also said that on Bristow Helicopters, 90 – 95 per cent of the issues had already been solved through social dialoguing.

“We understand the plight of the employers, being that the volume of work in that organisation has dwindled, from 50 aircraft business to an all-time low of 12 aircraft. We appeal to both management and workers to dialogue with human face in order to save jobs,” he noted.

He said the thrust of the social dialogues was to save jobs, so that even the management could also consider reduction in the number of people slated for redundancy.

He also noted that even if redundancy must occur, it should be done under the ambit of Nigerian law on redundancy.

On the unilateral pay cut by Arik Air, as well as the disagreement on terminal benefit for workers, Ngige directed the management of the airline to engage the employees on social dialogue and come up with a mutually agreed remuneration.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), commended the Federal Government’s commitment to supporting the Aviation industry through the provision of palliatives. 

It’s Not Cheering News – NLC

Reacting to the NBS report, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said the news of the rise in number of unemployed persons was not cheering news, even as he urged government to do more to address the menace.

General secretary of the NLC, Emmanuel Ogbaoja, said the federal government needs to walk the talk by implementing home-grown programmes to increase job opportunities for Nigerian youths.

He said for instance, the continuous importation of petroleum products is a huge setback on the desire to create jobs

“we can’t say we want to create jobs and yet continue to import what we should be producing locally,” he added.