LAGOS, March 15 (Reuters) - A third of Nigeria’s workers were out of a job in the fourth quarter, the statistics office said on Monday, a situation worsened by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The unemployment rate stood at 33.3% in the fourth quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, up from 27.1% in the second quarter, when the data was last published. Unemployment of 23.1% was first reported for the third quarter of 2018.
High unemployment has dogged Nigeria for decades as rapid population growth outpaces economic growth in the midst of poor infrastructure, holding back the distribution of wealth in Africa’s biggest economy.
Nigeria entered the pandemic without having fully recovered from a 2016 recession that left more than 13 million people unemployed. The economy exited recession in the fourth quarter, but growth is fragile.
The pandemic disrupted economic activities and forced companies to lay off staff.
Access Bank, Nigeria’s largest lender, cut staff salaries and sacked contract workers accounting for 75% of its 30,000 workforce to save costs, banking sources told Reuters.
Unemployment among young people aged 15-34 was the highest at 42.5% in the fourth quarter. The data showed that in total, 46.48 million people were employed during the period, 30.57 million of them full time.
The fourth-quarter figure was 20.6% less than the number employed in the second quarter, the NBS said, adding that more than 12 million people did not do any work in the seven days preceding the survey. (Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram, writing by Chijioke Ohuocha, editing by Larry King)
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