About three-quarters of Nigeria’s workers were employed as the jobless rate fell to a record low in the first quarter, the statistics office said, after it revised the methodology for computing the data “in line with international best practices”.
The unemployment rate stood at 4.1% in the first quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said late on Thursday, down from 5.3% in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The NBS last published unemployment data in March 2021, where it reported a record high 33.3% jobless rate in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Under the revised system, the NBS defines employed persons as those in paid jobs and who worked for at least one hour in the last seven days, and considers underemployment as those working less than 40 hours a week and declaring themselves willing and available to work.
The NBS said the revised data “aligns with the rates in other developing countries where work, even if only for a few hours and in low-productivity jobs, is essential to make ends meet, particularly in the absence of any social protection for the unemployed”.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 200 million people, has faced high unemployment for decades as rapid population growth outpaced economic growth.
Record debt, sluggish growth and poor infrastructure have held back the distribution of wealth in Africa’s biggest economy where tens of millions are employed in the largely unregulated informal sectors.
Informal employment accounted for 92.6% among all employed Nigerians during the period, according to the NBS, while underemployment was 12.2%, compared with 13.% in the fourth quarter.