NBS reaffirms quality of statistical reports, announces changes to job survey methodology

The Statistician-General of the Federation (SGF)/Chief Executive, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Mr. Semiu Adeniran, has reaffirmed the quality and reliability of statistical reports by the bureau, stating that all methodology aligns with global best practices.

“We don’t just wake up at NBS to say we want to change the definition or methodology of unemployment on our own. Methodology is of international expertise that is being used across the globe and West African countries not just NBS,” Adeniran said at the second sensitisation workshop for stakeholders on the Redesigned Nigeria Labour Force Survey.

Adeniran also vowed that the error often noticed in the release of data, particularly the jobs statistics, would be a thing of the past going forward.

He said the long-awaited unemployment figure would soon be released. The last time the statistical agency released the country’s jobs data was in November 2021, when it made public the labour statistics for the fourth quarter of 2020.

However, the SGF said the methodology and definition for the computation of the labour data had now become stale and inapplicable to the Nigerian situation currently, and necessitated a review and launch of a new framework which is being subjected to stakeholders for discussion.

“All of these changes in the design and methodology, and the results to emanate from the survey are expected to give the government, policymakers and the public a better picture of the situation of work and employment in the country.

“Our role as the national statistics office is to provide this information using the most up-to-date methodology, following set international standards and guidelines. Anything short of this will mean us abdicating our responsibility as the official source of data in Nigeria,” he added.

The new methodology and changes made to the jobs survey consist of three major alterations in the definitions and concepts, Adeniran said.

The new definition of the labour force consists of anyone from the age of 15 years and above, that is willing, available, and able to work and contrasts the old definition recognised those aged between 15 and 64 that were willing, available, and able to work during the reference period of seven days.

In addition, the new definition of an unemployed person is anyone within the labour force who within the reference period, (previous seven days) did not work for a minimum of one hour.

“This is a significant change from the old definition, where to qualify to be employed, a person needed to have worked for a minimum of 20 hours within the reference period of seven days,” he added.

The definition of under-employed was also altered in the new framework. Under the old definition, a person is considered under-employed if he or she worked between 20 and 39 hours within the reference period of a week. However, under the new definition, anyone working under 40 hours, that is 1 – 39 hours a week and willing to accept more hours of work is considered under-employed.

“We want to use this medium to further appeal to all stakeholders and the public at large to please get fully acquainted with these changes in the definitions and concepts embedded in the new methodology, so that when the numbers are finally published, they will be received within the context and concepts of the new definitions. This is very important to us to avoid unnecessary and erroneous interpretations of the results when published,” Adeniran said.

He thanked the World Bank and ILO for their support and guidance in this review process.

“While it has been a very tough process working on this review, it has equally been an extremely rewarding one too, as our staff have gained significant technical experience and enhanced knowledge in modern methods of conducting surveys,” he added.

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