• Thursday, November 30, 2023
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NBS unemployment report faces further delay after two-year hiatus

Politics of Statistics in Nigeria

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has yet to release the unemployment report it said would be published before the end of May after it explained the reason for a two-year hiatus following a BusinessDay report.

BusinessDay had on March 16 reported that Nigeria had delayed unemployment data for two years, lagging far behind its African peers such as South Africa and Ghana.

The NBS last released unemployment figures in March 2021, when it announced an unemployment rate of 33.3 percent for the fourth quarter of 2020, eight months after it published data for Q2 2020.

After the BusinessDay report, the statistics bureau disclosed that since 2021, it had been collaborating with World Bank Nigeria, the International Labour Abuja and other stakeholders to enhance the methodology and implementation of the Nigeria labour force survey, which generates the unemployment report.

“This became necessary in order to devise a more sustainable method of conducting the survey, that accommodates the unique characteristics of the Nigerian Labour Market. Considerable progress has been made, and ongoing efforts are underway,” it tweeted on March 17.

The NBS said that since Q4 2022, it had initiated data collection using the new approach, and anticipated releasing national results quarterly and disaggregated state-level results by the end of the year.

“Q4 report will cover data collected between October 19, 2022 and January 22, 2023. The report for the reference quarter is almost concluded and will be published before the end of May 2023,” it said in its ‘Nigeria Labour Force Framework Re-design 2023′ report released in April.

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It is now over two years and three months that the country’s statistics office has not published unemployment data.

A country’s unemployment data is a major macroeconomic indicator that measures the performance of any economy, and helps to hold politicians and policymakers accountable for their promises.

Analysts have decried the delay in releasing such critical data amid mounting economic challenges facing the country.

“Unemployment data is very critical for everyone and that the fact that we don’t have an updated one up till now is not a good thing for planning and the economy,” Muda Yusuf, chief executive officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, said.

He said it is not good because the country needs data for people to understand what is happening in the economy and to understand what the issues are, so that those in government will know the kind of policies to put in place.

“One of the challenges the economy has is data availability, the timeliness of the data, and quality of the data. If the quality is not so good but if it is coming timely, at least it is better than having no data at all,” he added.

Olamide Adeyeye, partnerships manager at The African Talent Company, said countries that publish their unemployment data timely show how serious they are in terms of creating job opportunities or investing in solving unemployment.

“The outdated unemployment data is indicative of how human capital development and the initiatives towards harnessing it are valued in the country,” he said.

Nigeria lags in terms of timeliness of unemployment data compared to some other African countries. South Africa released its unemployment data for Q4 2022 (32.7 percent) in February and its data for Q1 2023 (32.9 percent) in May.

Egypt’s unemployment figure (7.2 percent) for Q4 2022 was revealed in February. In May, the country released its figure which was 7.1 percent for Q1.