The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that most employed Nigerians work less than 40 hours a week, a figure that reflects the degree of underemployment in the country.
This information was part of the findings made by the statistical agency as it rebased its computation of unemployment data to meet International Labour Organisation guidelines.
Unlike in the past, this underemployment data, which captured underemployment figures for one of Africa’s biggest economies, was computed using the same methodology used by developed economies such as the USA, Canada, and Italy.
In its report titled “Nigeria Labour Force Statistic Reports Q4 2022 & Q1 2023,” the agency said about “one-third (36.4 per]cent in Q4 2022 and 33.2 percent in Q1 2023) of employed persons worked less than 40 hours per week in both quarters.”
The agency explained that most of these people who work less than 40 hours a week are uneducated, especially women, who perhaps are uneducated and doing menial jobs, young people, and those living in rural areas or villages, as some say.
According to a report from the Ministry of Education, as of September 2021, the number of uneducated people was 76 million, which represents 30 percent of the estimated 200 million Nigerians.
Other details revealed in the report include the extent to which the organisation went to align its computation, as some argue, “for international comparison purposes.”
However, the report added that the number of those underemployed and willing to work more was 13.7 percent in Q4 2022 and 12.2 percent in Q1 2023.
It said, “Underemployment rate, which is a share of employed people working less than 40 hours per week and declaring themselves willing and available to work more, was 13.7 percent in Q4 2022 and 12.2 percent in Q1 2023.
“The data collection for the revised NLFS is based on a sample of 35,520 households nationwide. It is conducted continuously throughout the year, with national-level results produced quarterly and state-level results at the end of a full year.”
The hustle mentality of Nigerians was reflected in the report; the NBS said that “about 73.6 percent in Q4 2022 and 76.7 percent in Q1 2023 are employed in some type of job for at least one hour in a week, for a pay or profit.”
Its findings also revealed that “most Nigerians operate their own businesses or are engaged in farming activities, with a share of 73.1 percent and 75.4 percent in Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, respectively.
“A further 10.7 percent in Q4 2022 and 10.6 percent in Q1 2023 were engaged in helping (without pay or profit) in a household business.
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“In Q4 2022, 2.6 percent were engaged as Apprentices/Interns and 2.2 percent in Q1 2023.”
Unfortunately, one part of the report that has generated a lot of controversy and debate is the unemployment figure published by the statistical agency. The NBS said that “unemployment stood at 5.3 percent in Q4 2022 and 4.1 percent in Q1 2023.”
It defended the figure, saying that it aligned 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.