8 Main Causes of Unemployment In Nigeria

For the past five years in Nigeria, the rate of unemployment has been increasing year in year out. Minister of Labour and Employment, even said in an article that the unemployment rate for this Nigeria would reach 33.5 percent by 2020.

trend of unemployment rate in Nigeria quartely
Trend of unemployment rate in Nigeria 2017-2018, data source: National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria

This national issue calls for stakeholders in the country to look at the causes of unemployment and a way to find a lasting solution to it.

I cannot talk about unemployment without defining what it is and the types we have in Nigeria. It is a state of being available to work, but you aren’t working, even part-time or temporary. And the common types we have in Nigeria include

  • Underemployment
  • Frictional unemployment
  • Structural unemployment

Out of the three types I have mentioned, the most common in Nigeria is underemployment. It is a situation in which people take up any job to make ends meet but they are not working to their full capacity or skill level i.e., working to survive.

Like I have mentioned above, the rate is on an increase, and there is a need to know the causes before a solution can be proffer and this is the essence of this article

What are the causes of unemployment

  • Low Economic

Low economic is one of the causes of unemployment in Nigeria. According to an overview by the World Bank, the economic growth in Nigeria has remained muted.

Growth rate ris too low to lift the bottom half of the population out of poverty because it averaged 1.9% in 2018 and remained stable at 2% in the first half of 2019. (Source:

This report by the World Bank is suggesting to us that the solution to unemployment in Nigeria is still in view because our economy is underperforming.

  • Lack of employable skills

In a report published by the World Economic Forum in 2018, it was stated that it is only people who are equipped with futureproof skills that can take advantage of new opportunities through continuous retraining and upskilling.

What the report is actually saying is that people with the required skills are the ones that will seize the opportunities the fourth industrial revolution will present.

Read: List of lucrative skills in Nigeria

Even if there isn’t a revolution in the industries, there are skills every employer is looking for in their employee, and ones you don’t have such skills, you may find it difficult to get a job of your dream.

  • More graduates than available jobs

Employment creation in Nigeria remains weak and is not sufficient to absorb the fast-growing labor force, resulting in a high rate of unemployment.

According to a report, Nigerian tertiary education institutions produce up to 500,000 graduates every year, and 47% of the country’s university graduates are unemployed. (Source:

  • The collapse of the manufacturing sector

One of the ways to reduce unemployment is to increase the number of manufacturing sectors in the country. However, the reverse is the case in Nigeria.

  • Neglect of the agricultural sector

The agricultural sector is a sector that has the capacity to absorb more labor force, but this sector has been facing different challenges for years now. The growth in this sector has been hampered by the continued insurgency in the Northeast and ongoing farmer-herdsmen conflicts.

  • Leadership and managerial problem

It is quite unfortunate that Nigeria lacks leaders with the will power to tackle the national problem. Despite promises to tackle unemployment in Nigeria, our leaders are only interested in embezzling and engaging in all forms of corruption than to solve the immediate problem of the country.

  • Rapid population growth

The population growth in Nigeria has been averaged 2.6% annually. If the population is growing at a rate not as high as the employment creation, there won’t be any cause for alarm. But the number of people has outnumbered the available resources, so there is a problem on the mountain.

  • Lack of adequate youth development programs

Different organizations and even the government have come with some youth empowerment programs, but it isn’t sufficient because of the high number of youth we have in this country. The Nigerian population has reached 180 million, with more than half of its people under 30. Their effort is like a drop of water in the ocean.

I believ the pointed listed above on the causes of unemployment in Nigeria will help our leaders look critically into the issue and provide a lasting solution.

You may like to read: List of high paying companies and MDAs in Nigeria

Bolarinwa Olajire

A tutor with demonstrated history of working in the education industry. Skilled in analytical skills. Strong education professional with a M. SC focused in condensed matter.

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