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States with the Lowest and Highest Unemployment Rates in Nigeria

Nigeria’s official data body, the National Bureau of Statistics, recently released its quarterly Labour Force Statistics report. The document, downloadable from the bureau’s site, reveals the population of people who were employed, underemployed and without a job between April and June 2020.

According to the report, Nigeria has over 80 million people in its labour force– that is, the population of individuals age 15-64 who are willing and able to work.

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Of this number, about 27.1% are unemployed. That’s more than one in four persons in the labour force. Experts blame the high unemployment rate on several factors, including the paucity of jobs relative to the number of people who seek them.

However, the numbers and percentages differ across regions, states, gender, and educational qualifications. NBS’s document captures these differences.

States with the Lowest Unemployment Rate


Anambra State had the lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria. About 13.1% of people willing and able to work in the state were not engaged in work for more than 20 hours a week– much lower than the national average.

This means that 1.57 million persons in the state were fully employed (they work at least 40 hours a week).

The state also has the lowest proportion of underemployed persons in the country, with 17% of its labour force, or 384,176 people, marked as underemployed (they worked between 20 and 39 hours a week).


Kwara State posted the second-lowest rate of unemployment in Nigeria, at about13.8%, according to the NBS.  Data from the agency suggests that over 887,000 people are fully employed in the state, while 275,090 are partially employed.


This far-northern state of Sokoto is the third least burdened by unemployment in Nigeria, with 13.9% of its labour force classified as unemployed. More than 969,000 people are fully engaged with work in the state; 371,443 are underemployed.

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The States with the Highest Unemployment Rate

The states with the highest rate of unemployment in Nigeria are


With 48.7% of its labour force unemployed, Imo State has the biggest percentage of unemployed people of any state.  Approximately 1.2 million people are officially unemployed; only 618,481 are fully engaged with work.

Akwa Ibom

Well over 1.1 million persons– that’s  45.2% of the state’s labour force –are unemployed in Akwa Ibom. Just under 839,000 are fully employed, with 656,394 working below the full-time threshold.


Despite its undoubted natural endowments, Rivers State has a large number of people without employment. It’s estimated that 43.7% of people willing and able to work in the state can’t find a job that lasts more than 20 hours a week.

Rivers also has the highest number of unemployed people for any state in Nigeria, with 1.7 million individuals falling into this category. More than 1.1 million were not engaged in any sort of work.

A Note on Lagos State

Lagos has the highest number of employed people of any state, with 3.99 million fully employed, and 1.5 million underemployed. However, its unemployment rate is 19.5%; as such, it does not feature among the states with the lowest levels of unemployment.


Featured Image Source: Nairametrics

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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