Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Coronavirus: 66% of Nigerians stayed away from work since March: NBS

The report highlights a protracted instability in the job market, which experts warn could worsen insecurity.

• October 7, 2020
A man working on system
A man working on system

Sixty-six percent of Nigerians either worked for a short period or did not work at all during the extended lockdown forced by coronavirus pandemic, the National Bureau of Statistics has said.

In a new report out Tuesday, the bureau said a poll of Nigerians showed that 42 percent of respondents who had jobs before the health crisis reported that they were not currently working due to COVID-19. 

Only 34 percent of respondents have been working continuously since April/May, the report from the NBS said. Sixty-percent have experienced periods without work while six percent have not worked at all since the start of the pandemic.

The report showed a protracted instability in the job market, which experts warned could push citizens into crime and inevitably worsen insecurity.

Multinationals like Chevron and local companies and small businesses cut salaries and staff in an attempt to stay afloat as they shift focus on survival after being confronted with an unprecedented public health crisis.

A rise in unemployment often sends the number of job seekers through the roof, which could give rise to jobs racketeering and other unscrupulous activities. 

The report also showed how far Nigeria’s unemployment has increased in recent years.

In 2017, the NBS reported that Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 23.1 percent with over 20 million Nigerians unemployed. 

The figure was widely mourned at the time because there was no pandemic. In 2019, labour minister Chris Ngige projected the unemployment rate to stand at 33.5 percent by 2020. Same year, NBS reported that 40 percent of Nigerians lived below its poverty line of N137,430 ($354) a year. 

A key agenda of the United Nations’ sustainable goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Since the 1990s a steady downward trend has shown global inequality to be decreasing between countries, but the COVID-19 pandemic could upset all the strides recorded so far.

Due to the coronavirus, the NBS conducted a household-based survey via telephone on a sample size considered to be nationally representative . The number came to 1,950 households drawn from a previous survey done in 2018/2019.

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt the most in the commerce, service, and agricultural sectors. 79 percent of respondents in the survey reported that their households’ total income had dropped since mid-March when the country began enforcing closures and restrictions to contain the spread.

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