In January 2024, cryptocurrency company Pioneers shared a list of youth unemployment rates in different countries on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate was 53.4%, the firm claimed. This was behind South Africa’s 60.7%.
But Pioneers, which appears to be based in India and has more than 40,000 followers on X, didn’t give a source for its data. We also did not receive a response when we asked them for this information.
But are more than half of Nigeria’s young people unemployed? We looked at what reliable data tells us.
Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) collects data on unemployment in the country. It defines youth as anyone between the ages of 15 and 24. According to the agency, the youth unemployment rate is the rate of unemployment in this age group.
The unemployment rate is the proportion of the labour force – or the pool of people in a country who are available for work – who are unemployed.
In April 2023, the NBS announced that it had improved its methodology for collecting labour market data through the Nigeria Labour Force Survey, in line with International Labour Organization guidelines.
So what changed?
Under the old methodology, the agency classified the unemployed as anyone of working age who worked less than 20 hours or who was not working but looking for work and was available during the reference period – the week in which the NBS conducted the survey.
In the new approach, only people who did nothing for pay or profit are considered unemployed. These people are not in employment, are actively seeking work and are available for work.
This method saw the country’s unemployment rate fall from 33.3% in the last quarter of 2020 to 4.1% in the first quarter of 2023.
Youth unemployment was 53.4% in 2020
In March 2021, the NBS published data for the fourth quarter of 2020 in its Labor Force Statistics: Unemployment and Underemployment Report.
The unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 24 was 53.4% – the figure in the claim.
But that’s an old statistic.
The most recent data on employment in Nigeria is a labour report published by the NBS in December 2023, Dr Baba Madu, the head of the national accounts division at the agency, told Africa Check.
The youth unemployment rate rose from 6.9% in the first quarter of 2023 to 7.2% in the second.
According to Madu, the agency’s staff were collecting more recent data at time of publication.