Labour Disagrees with NBS’ 4.2% Unemployment Rate for Q2 2023

Labour Disagrees with NBS’ 4.2% Unemployment Rate for Q2 2023

The organised labour have disagreed with the newly released labour data pegging the unemployment rate at 4.2 per cent, saying the figure does not conform with current realities.

Stating that the unemployment rate by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) does not make sense anymore, they argued that it is not useful for planning purposes.

The NBS said that Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased to 4.2 per cent, from 4.1 per cent recorded in the first quarter (Q1) 2023, indicating an increase of 0.1 per cent.

This was contained in a report titled, ‘Nigeria Labour Force Statistics Report Q2 2023, which was released yesterday by the Bureau.

According to the revised methodology made public in August, the NBS defines employed persons as individuals who have worked for at least one hour in the last seven days.

It said the unemployment rate among youth aged from 15 to 24 years increased to 7.2 per cent in the Q2 of 2023, stressing that the increase was 7.2 per cent from 6.9 per cent in Q1 of 2023.

The NBS said it enhanced its methodology of collecting labour market data through the Nigeria Labour Force Survey in line with International Labour Organisation (ILO) guidelines.

The report stated that 80.4 per cent of Nigeria’s labour force in the working-age population participated in the survey.

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has said in the last three years, over 15 organisations with a combined value-chain staff strength of over 20,000 employees have either divested or partially closed down, adding to jobs lost.

Reacting to the statistics, Chris Onyeka, assistant general secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said rather than building on false data, NBS should embrace the reality of the unemployment rate in Nigeria, which put the rate at 33.3 per cent before embarking on the new methodology.

He said as the labour centre is concerned, unemployment has grown exponentially in Nigeria beyond the NBS’ 4.1 per cent.

He said that independent research has shown that youth unemployment is over 60 per cent while general unemployment is over 35 per cent.

Mentioning many multinational companies that have divested lately, he said that had automatically widened the unemployment rate, even as jobs have not been created.

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“That is the reality. The rate is so bad that it is easy to recruit people into criminality. Government must address the macroeconomic challenges,” he said.

Also, a professor of economics at the Lagos Business School (LBS), Bongo Adi, said the NBS position suggests that the unemployment rate is less than the natural rate of unemployment, which is considered normal for the economy.

Explaining what the five per cent natural rate of unemployment is, the don said: “People leave one job and there is an interval of time within which they are searching for a new job, so before they get a new placement, they remain temporarily unemployed, which is a very short one.

“During this period, it is structural unemployment, which is a technological shift, which means there would be new jobs but you wouldn’t have the matching skills until training meets such new skills.

“Within that period again, you are bound to have some layer of unemployment. So, if you put those frictions of unemployment together, that is what makes up the five per cent called Natural Rate of Unemployment.

“So, the NBS is telling us that unemployment is even below the natural rate. That is to make nonsense of the field; it is completely nonsensical.”

Dr Tommy Okon, the deputy president of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), , said that the government needed to think outside the box to create clear-cut policy direction to attract investors so that Nigeria would not perpetually remain in a job deficit.

He said there is a need for the government to also strategize to ensure the enabling environment is created for industries to strive for, which would give an account for the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu to create massive employment. (Guardian).


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