Imo State had the highest percentage of unemployed people in Nigeria in the fourth quarter of 2020, retaining a position it held in the second quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said in its latest labour force report.
Imo was followed by Adamawa and Cross River States. The three states recorded 56.6 per cent, 54.9 per cent and 53.7 per cent unemployment rates respectively. Yobe, Akwa Ibom and Rivers completed the top six.
At more than half the total number of the economically active populations, the rates reveal a shocking degree of unemployment in a country that suffered two recessions in the last five years.
They also show that growth and improvements in people-centred policies at the subnational level of government have been mostly insignificant.
Imo led the pack in the second quarter, with Akwa Ibom and Rivers following. Their rates then were much lower at 48.7 per cent, 45.2 and 43.7 per cent respectively.
Trailing the three states at that time were Delta with 40.3 per cent; Kaduna, 39.8 per cent; and Taraba 39.4 per cent. Abia was the seventh-highest.
While Kaduna, Delta and Taraba improved by the fourth quarter, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Rivers remained in the top six, joined this time by Adamawa, Cross River and Yobe.
The states with the lowest rates were Osun, Benue and Zamfara. They recorded 11.66 per cent, 11.98 per cent and 12.99 per cent respectively.
The Nigerian economy has faced a lingering crisis for years with inflation reaching a four-year high in February 2021.
The coronavirus pandemic that hit in 2020, slashing the country’s oil revenue and leading to businesses shutting down and laying off workers, made the situation worse.
The government predicted an unemployment rate of 33.6 per cent by the end of the year if something urgent was not done. The bureau of statistics said on Monday the national unemployment rate stood at 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter, just a bit lower than the forecast.
Imo, Akwa Ibom and Rivers are amongst the country’s richest states, benefitting from monthly oil derivation revenues that should give the three states relative advantage.
However, unemployment and poverty rates in those states have for years been consistently amongst the nation’s highest, an indictment on a political leadership that pays scant attention to real human capital development.
A May 2020 report by the NBS showed that in 2019 Rivers earned N140 billion, making it the second state with highest earning of internally generated revenue behind Lagos, the commercial capital of the country.
Delta was listed as the fifth-highest and Kaduna the sixth, earning N64 billion and N44 billion respectively. Akwa Ibom was on a distant 8th with N32 billion.
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