Opinion: The thin line between out of work and out of hire

by Uzoma Elenwoke


Having stated my case, I would want to see our government take a stronger stance on unemployment in our country so that at least the death of our fellow citizens who died last Saturday looking for jobs will not be in vain.

Unemployment is high when over 125,000 applicants in Lagos and Abuja alone chase 4,500 jobs, more applicants scamper for the remaining 35 states of the federation, over 20 feared dead in the scramble, and thousands faint from stampede and exhaustion. It is when people are skeptical about looking for jobs or alarmed about the application process simply because they are afraid that most advertised positions have been occupied or that they need to know Oga at the top to get job as opposed to qualifications that match job descriptions. It is when thousands of graduates have no jobs,thousands are admitted into higher institutions and yet thousands are graduated from our schools to join the queue.

From available data, unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 23.90 percent in 2011 from 21.10 percent in 2010, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics. From 2006 until 2011, Nigeria’s Unemployment Rate averaged 14.6 Percent, reaching an all-time high of 23.9 Percent in December of 2011 and a record low of 5.3 Percent in December of 2006. In Nigeria, the unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force. Going by the CIA fact book, Nigeria ranked 171 out of 203 countries of the world in terms of unemployment rate.A closer look at that list reveals that Nigeria ranked below African counterparts like Ghana, CAR, Zambia, Egypt, Tunisia , Gabon and Seychelles .

I beamed with smiles of optimism and happiness when I noted with rapt attention that our President included creation of jobs in his campaign manifesto published on Facebook sometime before his election. The event of 15/3/2014 leaves much to be desired as to how well this has gone.

It is important to note that every reasonable economy does not joke with employment. This is because of its strategic importance from an economic standpoint .Unemployment – and in fact the unemployment rate – is considered one of the major variables used to measure the overall health of the economy. Together with gross domestic product, inflation, interest rates, the level of the stock market, and exchange rates, the unemployment rate is one of six indicators used by policy makers, central bankers, businesses, and virtually all economic agents to make important strategic decisions. Unemployment reflects the unproductive resources in an economy. When individuals want to work, but cannot find jobs, the production possibilities of the economy don’t get realized.

Unemployment also measures the relative distribution of economic well-being in an economy. When unemployment is low, many people who want to work have jobs and are earning wages, thus enabling them to consume goods and services. In contrast, if unemployment is high, fewer people are earning wages, and are not consuming the desired level of goods and services.

Furthermore , government loses revenue as a result of unemployment. When a person is not working, that person is not paying taxes. Imagine if government encourages private sector to create 1 million jobs and it gets say 20% of their income as tax. This is a form of revenue for the government.

Having stated my case, I would want to see our government take a stronger stance on unemployment in our country so that at least the death of our fellow citizens who died last Saturday looking for jobs will not be in vain.

While we wait for government to act, I’ll leave us with a bit of advice from Henry Ford (the founder of the Ford Motor Company) to the unemployed during the Great Depression.

“I have always had to work, whether anyone hired me or not. For the  first forty years of my life, I was an employee. When not employed by others, I employed myself. I found very early that being out of hire was not necessarily being out of work. The first means that your employer has not found something for you to do; the second means that you are waiting until he does.”



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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