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NBS report shows many Nigerians still unemployed and selling personal belongings to survive

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MON, SEPT 7 2020-theG&BJournal- The latest Q2 2020 Labor Force Survey (LFS) collected by the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), shows that the share of people engaged in economic activities in the four states was lower in June/July 2020 than before the COVID-19 crisis, especially in FCT Abuja where the share of people working was down by around 14 percentage points, despite the easing of lockdown measures.

NBS said in the report that ‘’even if some people have resumed work, incomes may still be precarious, with larger shares of workers in Kano and Rivers engaged in agriculture and a smaller share of workers in Lagos engaged in industry than before the COVID-19 crisis.’’

In Lagos, Kano and Rivers States, there was still some decline in share of people working but it was not so severe: the share dropped by 1 percentage point in Kano, 7 percentage points in Lagos, and 5 percentage points in Rivers.

It said, food insecurity appears to be prevalent in the key states of Kano, Lagos, Rivers, and FCT Abuja, but especially in Rivers and FCT Abuja where 79 percent of households and 72 percent of households respectively reported having to skip meals since the start of the pandemic.

Additionally, more than one-third of households in Kano and FCT Abuja had sold assets to cover their living expenses, although selling assets was much rarer in Lagos, potentially because so few households are engaged in agriculture and hence do not have livestock or agricultural assets to sell.

‘’Households in all four states are drawing down their savings and borrowing money to cover their living expenses, which may leave them more economically vulnerable and reduce their investments in human capital in the future,’’ NBS said.

More than 1 in 5 households in Kano and FCT Abuja and more than 1 in 10 households in Lagos and Rivers reported violating containment measures in order to maintain a living, emphasizing the tradeoffs households face between earning incomes and protecting their health.

The coverage of social assistance, in the form of free food, varied dramatically between the four states with 43 percent of households in Rivers having received food assistance since the start of the pandemic compared with just 5 percent of households in Kano (the state with the highest poverty headcount rate of the four); social assistance in cash or in kind was far rarer.

The NBS said, the Q2 2020 LFS also contains a set of household-level COVID-19-specific employment questions, which reinforce the finding that the share of people working may have dropped since the start of the pandemic.

Across all four states, of those households in which someone was working in mid-March 2020, at least 5 percent reported that a household member had lost a job or changed activities.

The results of the Q2 2020 LFS echo the national-level results from the COVID-19 National Longitudinal Panel Survey (NLPS), which demonstrate that, while the share of respondents working had almost halved between the outbreak and the period of strict lockdown in April/May, by June the share of respondents working had recovered substantially.

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