With a fast-growing population of nearly 240 million, Nigeria is the leading country in Africa by number of inhabitants. For this reason, among others, the burden of unemployment has been prevalent over the years, leaving the labor dependency ratio forecast at 2.6 percent in 2022. In that year, the total labor force was estimated to increase to over 67 million. Together with the rising active population, the number of unemployed residents was also estimated to grow to reach over 6.3 million in 2021. Overall, the unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased considerably, rising to nine percent in 2020. To help reduce unemployment in the country, the government announced, in February 2022, that it had created 750,000 jobs.
Employment and self-employment
The working population in Nigeria was projected at over 60 million in 2022, the majority of which were men. The legal age at which individuals can exercise an economic activity in Nigeria is 15 years. As of 2020, employees were mostly aged 25-44 years. Overall, the services sector boasts of the largest volume of employment compared to the other sectors.
Although self-employment in Nigeria has occupied a minimally increasing portion of the country's total employment, it has contributed to filling certain unemployment gaps. The 2019 Finance Act, enforced in January 2020, exempted businesses with an annual turnover equal to or below 25 million Nigerian naira, roughly 60,000 U.S. dollars, from income tax. This has encouraged the creation of small businesses. As of 2019, female employers covered 0.16 percent of the total employment in the country, while the share was higher among men, at 0.41 percent.
Working hours and hard-earned wages
In Nigeria, the monthly cost of living for a predefined food basket, as of 2020, reached around 43,000 Nigerian naira per individual - approximately 111 U.S. dollars. For people undertaking an economic activity, the monthly minimum wage was 30,000 Nigerian naira, some 72 U.S. dollars. This means that, on average, residents and families are unable to adequately cover their cost of living due to low wages. In general, the lowest-paying professional activity in Nigeria was in the area of data.
The Nigerian Labor Act does not limit the number of working hours. In 2022, the country registered more than 2.6 billion projected weekly worked hours. However, in the same year, around 2.2 million working hours in full-time equivalent jobs were estimated as lost due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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