By Emeka Anaeto, Economy Editor
As economic downturn persists, the number of unemployed and underemployed persons in Nigeria surged to 22.45 million in the fourth quarter, Q4, 2015, about 9.1percent or 1.75 million, higher than 20.7 million recorded in the third quarter.
In addition, during the period a total number of persons in full time employment (that did any form of work for, at least, 40 hours) decreased by 710,693 when compared to the previous quarter.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, unemployment is the proportion of those in the labour force (not in the entire economic active population, nor the entire Nigerian population) who were actively looking for work but could not find work for at least 20 hours during the reference period, to the total current active labour force population.
Accordingly, you are unemployed if you did absolutely nothing at all or did something but not for up to 20 hours in a week.
Underemployment, according to NBS, occurs if you work less than full time hours, which is 40 hours in a week, but work at least 20 hours on average a week and /or if you work full time but are engaged in an activity that underutilises your skills, time and educational qualifications.
The development in the labour sector reflects the landmark declines recorded in key economic indices since last year, with the gross domestic product, GDP, on steady decline hitting a three-year low of 2.1 percent in Q4,2015 while a steady inflationary pressure had pushed the headline rate to 11.4 percent in February.
In its employment report yesterday, NBS also stated that the economically-active population or working age population (persons within ages 15 and 64) has increased to 105.02 million in Q4 2015, from 104.3 million in Q3 2015, representing a 0.68 percent increase over the previous quarter and a 3.2 percent increase, when compared to Q4 2014.
The report also said that in Q4 2015, the labour force population (those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work) increased to 76.96 million from 75.94 million in Q3 2015, representing an increase of 1.34 percent in the labour force, during the period.
This means 1.02 million persons in the economically-active population entered the labour force, and NBS stated that this increase was the highest quarterly jump in the labour force population in 2015.
According to the report, the number of underemployed in the labour force (those working but doing menial jobs not commensurate with their qualifications or those not engaged in full time work and merely working for few hours) increased by 1.21 million or 9.16 per cent, resulting in an increase in the underemployment rate to 18.7 percent or 14.42 million persons in Q4 2015, from 17.4 percent or 13.2 million in Q3 2015.
During the same period, the number of unemployed in the labour force, increased by 518,102 persons, resulting in an increase in the national unemployment rate to 10.4 percent in Q4 2015 from 9.9 percent in Q3 2015.