NBS: 20% of Nigeria’s full-time workers lost jobs in 2020

BY Victor Ejechi


The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says that 20 percent of the full-time workforce in Nigeria lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The NBS disclosed this in a study jointly conducted with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and released on Tuesday.

The report, which centred on the impact of COVID-19 on business enterprises in Nigeria, interviewed almost 3,000 businesses from the formal and informal sectors across major industries.

According to the report, the pandemic affected the nation’s workforce and caused an increase in the unemployment rate — moving from 27 percent to 33 percent between Q2 2020 and Q4 2020.


“While there have been promising signs of recovery this year, COVID-19 has had an outsized socio-economic impact on Nigeria,” the report reads.

“Businesses resorted to laying off employees to survive, and shutdowns of enterprises severed crucial livelihood lines for households that depended on them for income, coupled with the lack of new business opportunities and reduction in capital investment further limiting new job prospects.

“Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the median full-time staff strength of formal and informal enterprises stood at 12 and five, respectively.


“During the pandemic, these figures declined and stood at ten and four for formal and informal enterprises, respectively. Across the sample, this results in 20 percent of the initial full-time workforce losing their jobs during this period.

“Among the formal enterprises, this figure is slightly higher at 21 percent compared to 15 percent among informal enterprises.”

The report added that while 58 percent of businesses maintained staff strength, 28 percent lost up to 50 percent of their initial workforce, with the remaining 14 percent losing more than 50 percent of their initial workforce.

It further added that the informal enterprises were more affected, resulting in 62 percent of the total job losses.


At the unveiling of the report, Simon Harry, the NBS boss, said the survey results were very important as they contain important information that could guide policymakers in their interventions to mitigate the negative socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 in the country.

Mohamed Yahya, the Nigerian UNDP Resident Representative, said that the report findings highlight the complex challenges the economy continues to face because of COVID-19.

He said that it also raises awareness into the ramifications of the pandemic on the business environment in Nigeria, including its impact on production, sales, revenues and the labour force, with details that were far more granular than were normally available and offering critical insight into where interventions should be targeted.

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