• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Half of Nigerians are poor despite low unemployment-World Bank

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Nearly half of Nigerians live below the national poverty line despite an unemployment rate of five percent, a new report by the World Bank has said.

The report, titled ‘Why do so many Nigerian workers remain poor?’, showed a correlation between the type of employment, whether wage or self-employment, and levels of poverty.

“Poor and non-poor Nigerians are about equally likely to work. To escape poverty, it is more important what someone does, rather than whether they work,” it said.

Using the survey of the latest Nigeria Labour Force Survey (NLFS) by the National Bureau of Statistics, the Washington-based lender pointed out that the type of work Nigerians do is more crucial than just having a job.

It said wage jobs offer a significantly lower poverty rate compared to other types of work. “However, wage jobs are scarce in Nigeria. Only around 15.0 percent of employed Nigerians engage primarily in a paid wage job or an apprenticeship.”

The report added that education, while helpful for obtaining wage work, is not a guaranteed path out of poverty. Less than half of Nigerians with post-secondary education manage to secure a wage job, it said.

It said most wage jobs lack essential benefits like written contracts, social security contributions, and paid leave. Additionally, most jobs, regardless of wage status, don’t require high skill levels, even for those with higher education, according to the report.

Only one in 10 workers are managers, (associate) professionals, technicians, or clerical support workers — occupations which use advanced skill levels, it said.

“Moreover, most wage workers do not receive additional job benefits. Less than half of Nigerian wage workers have written contracts, only around one-quarter work for employers that make social security contributions, and just one-fifth have paid leave,” the report said.

The authors of the report said the dominance of small businesses employing fewer than five people further limits the demand for high-skilled labour, as complex management and specialisation are less prevalent in such settings, highlighting limited access to finance and infrastructure restricts these businesses from growing and creating more high-skill jobs.

“Not surprisingly, most of these jobs are held by Nigerians with post-secondary education. However, even among them, more than half are not able to land such a job. Thus, either the skills acquired by post-secondary education do not match the needs of employers, or such jobs are too scarce in Nigeria’s economy.”

Following the adoption of a new methodology for the country’s labour force, the latest NLFS showed that the unemployment rate rose to 5.0 percent in the third quarter of last year from 4.2 percent in Q2.

The World Bank report said that addressing Nigeria’s poverty challenge requires policies that support firm growth, enhance productivity in household enterprises, and align the skills of workers with the demands of the economy.

It added that Nigeria can make strides in poverty reduction by focusing on job quality and productivity rather than just unemployment rates.

Ongoing investments in labour market data offer hope for informed policy decisions to tackle this pressing issue, according to the report.

“Rather than just creating more jobs, Nigeria needs policies that can support firm growth to expand wage jobs, build productivity in farm and non-farm household enterprises, and help match the skills of school leavers with those that the economy needs most. Tracking job quality and productivity provides a more lucid policy focus than simply seeing what happens to the unemployment rate,” it said.