Freshly released Q2 2020 labour force statistics by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that Nigeria’s labour force dropped to 80.29 million in Q2 2020 (11.25% down from 90.47
million in Q3 2018).
Further breakdown of the data showed that, unemployement rate rose to 27.1% in Q2 2020 from 23.1% in Q3 2018 as the
classification of those working less than 20 hours a week and those who did nothing together increased the number of unemployed persons to 21.76 million (from 20.93 million in Q3 2018).
Also, 22.94 million persons were underemployed, as they worked less than 40 hours, in Q2 2020 (25.97% up from 18.21 million in Q3 2018).
This brought the total unemployed plus underemployed persons to 44.71 million (55.68%) in Q2 2020 from 39.14 million (43.27%) in Q3 2018.
Amongst the 37 states (inclusive of the Federal Capital Territory), five states with the highest unemployment rates – when underemployed and unemployed numbers were combined in the quarter – include; Imo State recorded 75.1%, Kaduna (72.8%), Abia (70.3%), Kogi (69.1%) and Gombe (69.1%).
Meanwhile, the fully employed, 44.32% of the labour force who worked for more than 40 hours, fell to 35.59 million in Q2 2020 (from 51.32 million in Q3 2018).
In another development, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) report on domestic and foreign portfolio participation in equities trading showed that total equities market transactions decreased in H1 2020 compared to transactions done in the corresponding period of 2019.
The ratio of total domestic transactions to total foreign transactions increased to 60:40 in H1 2020, from 54:46 in H1 2019, given the marginal 1.27% decline in total domestic transactions as compared with the 16.11% fall in total foreign portfolio transactions.
Specifically, total transactions on the nation’s bourse moderated to N1.00 trillion in H1 2020 (from N1.09 trillion printed in H1 2019); of which total domestic transactions fell to N606.93 billion (from N614.73 billion) while FPI transactions reduced to N396.63 billion (from N472.78 billion).
Breakdown of the FPI transactions in H1 2020 showed that foreign portflio outflows increased by 3.44% to N266.68 billion; however, the foreign portfolio inflows dropped by 39.55% to N129.95 billion amid uncertainties over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Domestic institutional transactions rose year on year by 12.45% to N320.52 billion in H1 2020.
On the flip side, retail investors’ interest in equities market was weak as transactions from this group moderated to N286.41 billion in the period under review from N329.69 billion in H1 2019.
As investors stood on the side lines, particularly the FPIs, the NSE All Share Index (ASI) plummeted by 8.80% to 24,479.16 index points in H1 2020 (compared to the 4.66% decline to 29,966.87 index points in H1 2019).
On the global scene, the sustained weekly rise in US crude oil input to refineries, climbing week-on-week by 0.14% to 14.66 mb/d as at August 7, 2020 (but lower by 15.26% to 17.30 mb/d printed in August 9, 2019), lifted WTI crude price w-o-w by 0.69% to USD42.24 a barrel.
Also, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) fell w-o-w by 0.87% to 514.08 million barrels (but higher by 16.70% from 440.51 million barrels as at August 9, 2019).
However, Brent crude fell by 0.29% to USD44.96 a barrel even as Bonny Light crude moderated by 0.42% to USD44.63 a barrel as at Thursday, August 13, 2020.
The unencouraging unemployment figures reflects the ineffectiveness of government at creating an enabling environment for private businesses to thrive and absorb the capable and willing to work persons; hence the rising poverty and worsening insecurity.
We expect government to continue prioritising infrastructural development and churning out right policies that would facilitate private-sector-led investments.