At least 18,919 Nigerians lost their public sector jobs between October 2015 and March 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, said.
Although about 5,867 new public sector jobs were generated between October and December 2015, the Bureau said about 10,155 jobs were lost during the period in the public sector of the federal, state and local governments.
This translates to a negative employment generation figure of -4,288.
Also, while about 5,726 jobs were created between January and March 2016 in the public sector, the Bureau said about 8,764 jobs were lost during the period, with a negative employment generation figure of -3.038 for the period.
The Bureau, which reported a sharp decline of 84.1 per cent in total employment against the figure in the last quarter of 2015, said only about 79,469 jobs were generated in the economy in the first three months of 2016, against about 499,521 jobs created during the corresponding period of 2015.
The agency said in its quarterly job creation survey in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, that the figure was 83.1 per cent lower than the 389,605 jobs created in the corresponding period last year.
“This sharp decline in employment generation in the first quarter of 2016 is strongly correlated to the weakening economic output within the period, where the Nigerian economy recorded a negative growth of -0.36 percent,” the statistics agency said.
An analysis of the jobs created for the quarter showed 21,477 came from the formal sector, consisting formal professional services with less than 10 employees.
About 61,026 jobs came from the informal sector in the first quarter, made up of mainly low skill, low paying blue collar jobs in agriculture, light manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade businesses.
The NBS said the drop by 27,246 in formal employment in the last quarter of last year and 21,477 in the first quarter of 2016 across all the economic activities was as a result of the slowing down of economic activities in the wake of the economic recession.
With the economy actually in recession at the moment, following the recent formal confirmation by the NBS, analysts say the employment situation would likely worsen, except government took steps to spend on strategic capital infrastructure to reflate the economy.
The Lead director, Centre for Social Justice, CENSOJ, Eze Onyekpere, said declining employment figures in an economy in recession was not surprising, as firms are closing up and reducing their workforce, in the face of declining gross domestic products (GDP) and high inflation.
“Decline in employment is to be expected in a recession,” Mr. Onyekpere said. “With companies’ profits declining, their retrenchment of workers, and not hiring to replace them, the figure will keep going down.
“The challenge is not in the recession, but for government to spend its way out of it. Not as Nigerians talk about, but quality spending in a way to help regenerate the economy.
“Spending is not about borrowing to pay salaries of workers, but spending on strategic capital investments and projects to improve the ease of doing business, ensure availability of infrastructure, like power, roads, works and housing, for people to run their businesses.”
The Nigeria Labour Congress President, Ayuba Wabba, said the concern of the labour union was on how government could create new jobs for young Nigerians who constitute the most affected population by the crisis.
Mr. Wabba said the best way forward was for government to ensure manufacturers continue to access raw materials and produce.
Most manufacturers, he said, find it difficult to survive.
“Many of them have closed. They cannot afford the cost of raw materials, because of the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange (FOREX) and the pressure from the free fall of the Naira,” he said.
He said government must ensure FOREX was channelled to the manufacturer’s to enable them import raw materials they cannot find in Nigeria.
On the recession, he said the best way was for the government to make money available in circulation to drive economic activities.
“Government can also establish modular refineries to ensure money used for the importation of petroleum products would be saved and used to develop the economy, by providing the infrastructure required to drive productive economic activities to create jobs for the people,” he said.