Unemployment to rise as NBS prepares new data

Posted by Sanya Adejokun | 2 September 2018 | 1,839 times

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•Statistician-General, NBS, Yemi Kale

With 34 million out of total labour force population of 85.1 million not fully employed by September 2017, there are indications that a more distressing unemployment figures are set to be released by the NBS when it releases latest figures currently being gathered by the end of September this year. And issues of employment and poverty are likely to feature prominently on the agenda of political parties campaigning for the 2019 general elections.

This, however, is even a conservative figure compared with the NBS report of 2016, which disclosed that 112 million Nigerians live below poverty level.

NBS has been unable to either gather or publish labour force statistics beyond that of Q3 2017 due to paucity of funds according to the Statistician-General and Chief Executive Officer of NBS, Mr. Yemi Kale, who spoke exclusively with Sunday Tribune.

He was, however, under no illusion that the new figures will present any succour. According to him, Nigeria must create four million new jobs annually to begin to make any dent in the ballooning figures. This, he said, is exclusive of any loss of already existing jobs.

But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had earlier stated that government had created at least nine million new jobs since May 29, 2015. He said this while appearing on a television programme monitored in Abuja, noting that of the figure, six million jobs were created in the agriculture sector and through the N-Power Scheme.

However, the NBS said in its report that “the unemployment rate, induced by a recession, typically peaks about 15 to 18 months after the beginning of a recession or 4 to 8 months after the end of a recession before it returns to its pre-recession trend. This, in the case of Nigeria, will be a peak in Q4 2017 which means we will only expect unemployment to return to its normal trend in 2018. The length of the lag depends on how deep and long the recession was. It also depends on how stable and fast the recovery is as well as on the economic sectors driving the recovery.”

NBS noted that the economically active or working-age population of 15 – 64 years of age increased from 110.3 million in Q2 2017 to 111.1 million in Q3 2017 while labour force population increased from 83.9 million in Q2 2017 to 85.1 million in Q3 2017.

“We don’t sit in the office and make up figures. We need to go to the field but there were absolutely no resources to do our data collection. Personnel have to be mobilised from all over the country on land and water. I cannot give you unemployment numbers without funding.
“Unemployment figures have never been promptly released because we always have paucity of funds. Most times, we wait until we have funds and then we collate multiple quarters together. The last figure we released was that of Q3 2017 and you should remember that the 2018 budget was only approved on June 30 and we got the first funding just a few weeks ago. Right now, personnel are already in the field gathering necessary data and it will take at least one month and it will be ready. If we get prompt funding will present our reports promptly. We are very careful that the numbers we publish are always credible. NBS will never be politicised while I am on this seat and that is extremely important.

“I will rather resign than manipulate figures. Institutions in Nigeria must function the way they are designed. It is only recently that funding was made available. We are lumping fourth quarter four of 2017 to quarter two of 2018 together. And we should not be under any illusions about the likely figure that will emerge. There are four million people you must provide new jobs for in addition to the ones that have been lost. With the influx of people into the job market, there is no way unemployment figures will not rise. Most times we try to keep going with our personal funds to be reimbursed later. If I don’t release the figures by early October, then something is wrong”, he declared.

In the latest report, NBS stated that “total number of people in full-time employment (at least 40 hours a week) declined from 52.7 million in Q2 2017 to 51.1 million in Q3 2017 (A loss in full time employed workers may not necessarily be due to job losses. It may also be due to people choosing to work fewer hours hence becoming underemployed or people like intending students or new mothers choosing to leave full-time employment entirely or temporarily.

Excerpted from a Sunday Tribune report

Source: News Express

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