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South-west Nigeria stands out as region with lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria

Nigerian South-western States emerged as the region with the lowest unemployment and poverty rates. South- West Nigeria which is made up of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo recorded an unemployment rate of 17.3 percent and a poverty rate of 13.2 percent, according to the just released NBS Abridged Labour Force Survey Under Covid-19.

Philip Alege a Professor of macroeconomics at Covenant University encapsulated the reasons for the low unemployment rate in South-west as high literacy rate in the region and the concentration of industries.

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is located in the South-west and it is a large employer of labour, says Alege.

On the other hand, during the period under review, the SouthSouth region recorded the highest unemployment rate of about 34.6 percent, although the region ranked the second lowest in terms of poverty, about 20.3 percent.

According to Johnson Chukwu, MD/CEO of Cowry Asset Management Ltd, the South-south region has been faced with so much insecurities especially kidnapping, which has hindered the level of economic activities and is a major reason why the region has the highest unemployment rate.

Johnson also mentioned that the South-west is an active industrial base in Nigeria and Lagos and Oyo state have the highest number of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMES) which aids in providing employment for the youths in Nigeria.

The methodology used to capture those who are regarded as unemployed and underemployed made use of working hours and if we are to look at workers in the SouthWest of Nigeria, they work for the longest hours, says Olaolu Boboye of CSL Stockbrokers.

Boboye further explained that a significant proportion of the persons living in the south-south are business people who do not necessarily work for long hours but are still making their income.

“If the number of hours business people in the South-south work are trackable, it is possible that they are not necessarily unemployed so their poverty rate would not be high”.

According to the NBS report, “not everyone who is unemployed or underemployed is living in poverty and not every employed person is living outside poverty”.

Disaggregating the data on a state- by- region basis, evidence shows that in the South-east region, Imo state recorded an unemployment rate of 48.7 percent despite ranking the lowest in poverty levels (29 percent). Whereas, Anambra despite recording the lowest unemployment rate in the region, the state ranked highest in terms of poverty, about 80 percent.

Omobola Adu, research analyst at Growth & Development Asset Management explained that for one, being employed does not translate into escaping poverty. He added that based on the NBS report on living standards, 4 out of 10 individuals in Nigeria has real per capita expenditures below 137,430 Naira per year.

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