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A third of the 69.7 million-strong labor force in Africa’s most-populous nation either did nothing or worked for less than 20 hours a week, making them unemployed, according to the Nigerian definition. Another 15.9 million worked less than 40 hours a week, making them underemployed.
The oil producer surpassed South Africa on a list of 82 countries whose unemployment rates are tracked by Bloomberg. Namibia still leads the list with 33.4%.
Nigeria’s jobless rate has more than quadrupled over the last five years as the economy went through two recessions, casting a shadow over the efforts to implement policies to drive growth and create jobs by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The lack of jobs adds to pressure on consumers in a country where food prices rose more than 20% year-on-year in January and authorities struggle to bring insecurity driven by violent insurgency attacks and kidnappings under control. Nigeria’s finances were knocked by last year’s drop in the price of oil, which account for 90% of foreign-exchange earnings and about half of government income.
More than 60% of Nigeria’s working-age population is younger than 34. Unemployment for people aged 15 to 24 stood at 53.4% in the fourth quarter, and at 37.2% for people aged 25 to 34. The jobless rate for women was 35.2% compared with 31.8% for men.
The recovery of the economy with 200 million people will be slow, with growth seen at 1.5% this year, after last year’s 1.9% contraction, according to the International Monetary Fund. Output will only recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, the lender said.
The number of people looking for jobs will keep rising as population growth continues to outpace output expansion. Nigeria is expected to be the world’s third most-populous country by 2050, with over 300 million people, according to the United Nations.