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The Effects of Unemployment in Nigeria (Part I)

This is a topic that will be of interest to everyone. This is because there is hardly anyone in this country who does not know a person that is unemployed. The effects of unemployment in Nigeria are far-reaching and cannot be swept under the carpet as they stare us in the face, daring us to do something about it. Unemployment is generally said to occur when a person actively searching for a job is unable to find it.

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To the unemployed individual, the most profound effect is the downward spiral it draws one’s mental health into. It is not unusual for unemployed persons to feel invaluable, helpless, unwanted and hopeless. Nothing makes an able-bodied human being feel low as being out of job and having to depend on others for his/her livelihood and where such a person is the breadwinner in his family, the feeling is aggravated as there is the added burden of not being able to provide for those that depend on him.

The longer the state of unemployment persists, the drearier the situation becomes. The individual may lose his sense of purpose or even start questioning the value of continued living which may then lead to attempts of suicide or actual suicides.


A popular saying is that ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop’. An unemployed person has more than enough time on his hands. He can be easily drawn into criminal activities even with the promise of just 1000 naira. Once he has lost his scruples, he is usually found used as political thugs by unscrupulous politicians as any opportunity to make some money is quickly grabbed with little or no thought to morality.

This is a very common scenario in this country as it is the unemployed youths that are usually used in stealing ballot boxes, causing mayhem and generally disrupting the process during elections.

Prostitution is also one ugly effect of unemployment. If one takes the time to speak with these prostitutes, most of them will say they resorted to the trade after fruitless search for jobs. Some will say they had to do the trade or literally starve to death.


The effects of unemployment on economic growth and development are humongous. First is its impact on the revenue government generates from taxes. After all, you cannot give what you do not have and so unemployed people are unable to pay taxes because, you guessed right, they are unemployed.

With fewer people having jobs, fewer goods and services get produced as the output of manufacturing/service firms is directly proportional to the number of staff. A slowed down production of capital goods invariably leads to a slower rate of economic growth and by extension a lowered Gross Domestic Product.

An unemployed person will gladly reduce the cost of his service and render it for just a fraction of its worth in order for him to get something to keep body and soul together. Reduced labour cost is in no way favourable to the economy as it still goes back to low tax revenue.

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The impact of unemployment on economic growth is also felt through spending. For any economy to thrive, people must be spending. However, in situations where budgets are cut to the barest essentials due to unemployment, such an economy is negatively impacted.


The purchasing power of an individual is dependent on the amount of cash at hand. This means that unemployed individuals will manage anything they have at hand by opting for inferior goods as quality will no longer be considered when buying.

This has a positive impact on the revenue of sellers and producers of inferior goods who experience an increase in profits.


They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of it. Since one’s life history is usually dependent on one’s attitude rather than circumstances, the rod of unemployment can be turned into a staff to climb to greater heights; the incentive that spurs one on to pursuing a new career path or even learn a trade and become a business owner!

There have been numerous stories of university graduates who after years of fruitless search for jobs turned around and signed up for a trade and within a few years not only have a viable means of livelihood but become employers of labour themselves!

This is a positive effect of unemployment that can be beneficial to the unemployed if seized upon.


Loss of skills is a by-product of being out of a job. An individual that has been out of job for a while tends to be less efficient when he gets back to the workforce. He is like a knife that has become rusty with disuse. As they come back less efficient with decreased productivity due to their set of skills becoming less able to give quality results, this may give rise to them eventually losing the job and practically going back to square one.

Employers in Nigeria are even less likely to give someone who has been out of a job for a while a chance. In the same vein, they would rather employ a fresh graduate than take a chance on a graduate holding the same degree but who has been combing the streets for the past five years or so.

This is because the employer almost always considers the cost of re-training them and would rather not do this if he can get an alternative (which he will always get as graduates are being turned out in the thousands every year).


Employers don’t have it so good as when unemployment is rife in the land. Fear of losing one’s job will make employees less likely to make demands for better pay or welfare as they will prefer the status quo to remain rather than risk getting sacked. This means that industrial actions will become a thing of the past as most workers will believe that the risk outweighs the benefits.

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Olusola Alli

Alli Olusola is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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