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The rate of youth unemployment in Nigeria is an alarming high. Statistically, one in every two Nigerians in the country’s labor force is either unemployed or underemployed.

That grim stat was one of the key highlights of the 2020 unemployment report published by Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics, which shows the most recent data as of 2020.

As at the end of last year, the youth unemployment rate had gone up to 33.3% in the fourth quarter (Q4), climbing up from 27.1% in Q2 of 2020. By the end of 2020, the country’s underemployment rate had increased to 28.6%.

The statistics shown by the NBS simply means that about 21.7 million out of 80.2million of Nigerians are unemployed, a figure that exceeds the population of 35 of Africa’s 54 countries. Among young Nigerians aged between 25 and 34, the largest bloc of the labor force, the unemployment rate currently stands even higher, at 30.7%, as of Q4 of 2020.

The youth unemployment rate is one of many fundamental problems that the current administration has failed to combat successfully, and is one of the underlying issues that birthed the October 2020 #EndSARS protests.


Nigeria’s job crisis is not unprecedented. A severe lack of proper funding of education in the country has resulted in a significant decline in the general health of the educational sector. These problems are not made easier when bodies like the ASUU embark on recurring strike actions over low wages and benefits.

With economic opportunities fading away, wealthy and middle-class Nigerians are making it a goal to send their children and wards abroad for university degrees, in order to give them a competitive edge in the labor market.

The problem of youth unemployment is currently looking as though it will linger for a while as the damage in the system would take years to fix. The World Bank has predicted that Nigeria’s flailing economy is set for its worst recession in over 40 years as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to manifest.

As of the time of this article, despite the elaborate budgets being presented by the government each year, Nigeria stands as having the second highest poverty rate in the entire world, and the problem of unemployment does not seem like a priority for now.

By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi is a digital and web content developer with experience in web content development and management as well as research and writing. He is an avid reader of random subject matters and a sucker for movies and video games. He is also passionate about youth empowerment and is a global affairs analyst and enthusiast.