COVID-19: Unemployment Rate Worsens In Second Quarter Of 2020

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Uche Uwaleke, Professor of Finance and Capital Market, on Friday said the country’s unemployment rate in the second quarter (Q2)of 2020 was worsened by the negative impact of COVID-19.

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Uwaleke, a Professor of Finance and Capital Market at the Nasarawa State University, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

He was reacting to the unemployment rate figure just released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) after a 20-month interval.

The NBS said the unemployment rate rose to 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 from the 23.1 per cent recorded in third quarter (Q3) of 2018.

The NBS, in its ‘Labour Force Statistics: Unemployment and Underemployment Report’ released on Friday, said underemployment rate in the country increased from 20.1 per cent in Q3 2018 to 28.6 per cent in Q2 2020.

“For the period under review, Q2 2020, the unemployment rate among young people (15-34 years) was 34.9 per cent, up from 29.7 per cent, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2 per cent from 25.7 per cent in Q3 2018,” it said.

Reacting to the figures, Uwaleke said the unemployment situation was worsened by the negative impact of COVID’19 on the economy which affected supply chains and resulted in job losses.

“The increase in unemployment rate in Q2 of 2020 should be expected for an economy where the rate of growth in GDP is lower than the population growth rate.

“This is particularly so when the major growth driver, which is the oil sector contributes less than 10 per cent of GDP and employs less than five per cent of the working population.

“It is equally not surprising that youth unemployment at 28.2 per cent, according to the NBS is on the rise, considering the increasing number of graduates who enter the labour market every year.

“It is not that the government’s efforts in the area of job creation is not yielding results.

“The challenge stems more from the fact that the rate of job creation in the economy is not commensurate with the rate of expansion in the labour force,” Uwaleke stated.

On the way forward, he called on the government to ensure a conducive business environment for the private sector to drive employment generation.

“This will entail massive investment in enabling infrastructure such as power, transport, housing and broadband technology.

“The effort of the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria in the area of incentivising the agriculture value chain which has a lot of potential for job creation is commendable.

“However, I think there is still room to scale up interventions in this area,” he noted.

Uwaleke stressed the need to tackle insecurity in the northern part of the country to promote businesses and employment opportunities.

“The need to tackle insecurity, especially in the Northern part of the country which is stifling businesses and employment opportunities cannot be overemphasised,” he added.

Uwaleke said youth unemployment and underemployment would be addressed to a large extent if more emphasis was paid to skill acquisition through the setting up of model skill acquisition institutions in all the states of the federation.

“The state governments can take up this challenge in partnership with the private sector,” Uwaleke stated.

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