The Bane of Youth Unemployment on Labor Productivity in Nigeria: Implications for Development
Updated: May 4
Among the significant socioeconomic issues Nigeria faces are high unemployment and underemployment rates. The high incidence of youth unemployment and underemployment, which has been growing and associated with labor productivity, is one of Nigeria's most significant concerns. In addition to being an enormous waste of a nation's human capital, it results in welfare loss due to lower output, which lowers income and negatively affects wellbeing.  The subject of unemployment has always been an issue of great concern to economists, policymakers, and economic managers alike. Given the devastating effect of this phenomenon on individuals, society, and the economy at large (Bello (2003), youth unemployment is a significant challenge confronting Nigeria's economic development. Unemployment happens when an economically active segment of the population (labor force) or working population willing and able to work cannot find jobs, particularly the teeming youthful population.
The rising unemployment rates negatively impact the youth. As a result, they are forced into low-quality jobs, underemployed, strenuous labor, long hours, and little remuneration, or only temporary or informal employment arrangements leading to low labor productivity. It implies, however, that employment and labor productivity issues are crucial to every nation's social and economic wellbeing. The nation's inability to effectively develop and utilize its human capital causes unemployment, Fadayomi (1992) and Osinubi (2006).
According to a report from the NBS, as of the fourth quarter of 2020, 33.3 percent of Nigeria's workforce was unemployed, and 22.8 percent was underemployed. According to Statista, Nigeria's unemployment rate, which stood at 32.5% in 2021, was expected to rise slightly to 33% in 2022. In the same year, the employment rate stood at 49 percent, with a forecasted 37 percent unemployment rate. On the other hand, Trading Economics predicted a rate of 32 percent for the fourth quarter of 2022 and a decline to 30 percent by 2023. In light of all of these, it is anticipated that there will be 20 million unemployed Nigerians at any one moment between the fourth quarter of 2020 and 2023.
In 2020 (Q4), 42.5 percent of young Nigerians (aged 15 to 34) were unemployed, according to the NBS unemployment report on youth unemployment in the country. Of these young Nigerians, 2 in 10 (21%) were underemployed. Just 36.5 percent of the labor force was employed during the reference period. This fits with a trend in which the rate has risen since 2015, raising severe concerns. The rate of unemployment among young Nigerians (ages 25–24) was predicted to be 53% by 2022 and fall to 51% by 2023, although the situation would only modestly improve as an estimated 5 million youths remain unemployed. 
Although several policies, reforms, and frameworks have been initiated and put into place by Nigeria's successive administrations to address the problems of unemployment, and national development, the results have been less than encouraging because of a lack of a technical framework, operational leadership, and consistency. Yet, the government must implement consistent policy changes and effective methods if this dilemma is to improve.
The problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria has the unintended consequence of giving young people a way to negatively influence social issues because they cannot secure significant economic possibilities. Some young people become drawn to crime due to unemployment and the accompanying feelings of frustration, confusion, alienation, and apathy plaguing these unemployed youths. Because of unemployment, young people become involved in crime in one way or another. Others turn to insurgent operations, prostitution, armed robberies, oil bunkering, car snatching, terrorist organization agents, suicide bombing executions, and pipeline vandalism, among other things, which are all the resultant effects of low active labor force participation. Moreover, it leads to socio-political and socioeconomic instability and labor exploitation. They engage in these anti-social, anti-economic, and anti-political actions, in addition to violent, unlawful, and criminal ones, to express their displeasure with a system that hinders them from using remunerative employment to contribute to economic development positively. This has severe effects on Nigeria's development.
The problem of unemployment in Nigeria is a national issue that should be handled with care. Although several policies, reforms, and frameworks have been initiated and put into place by Nigeria's successive administrations to address the problems of unemployment, and national development, the results have been less than encouraging because of a lack of a technical framework, operational leadership, and consistency. Yet, the government must implement consistent policy changes and effective methods if this dilemma is to improve. While the percentage of young people in the labor force is rising, the employment growth rate must be increased to accommodate this increase.
Young people's expertise, abilities, and aspirations are priceless resources that no nation can afford to waste, and assisting them to reach their full potential by gaining access to employment is, without a doubt, a requirement for ending poverty, promoting sustainable development, and establishing sustainable peace. Developing the youth employment blueprint gives the government a unique chance to concentrate on employment and job creation for the nation rather than viewing unemployed young people as a challenge to society. 
 Umeifekwem Ph.D., Uchenna & Igbokwe-Ibeto, Chinyeaka & Florence, Agbodike. (2015). Youth Unemployment and Labor Productivity in Nigeria: The Nexus. Academic Journal of Research in Economics and Management. 2. 14-28. 10.12816/0017360
 Bello, T. (2003). Attacking unemployment hurdles in the fragile economies of the Sub – Saharan Africa: the experience of Nigeria. A paper presented at the Economics for the Future–conference; on the occasion of the celebration of 100 years of Cambridge economics; Cambridge, United Kingdom
 FMOYD (2008). Nigeria Youth Employment Action Plan (NIYEAP) 2009-2011. Federal Ministry of Youth Development, Abuja, Nigeria.