COVID-19: 20% Of Full-Time Nigerian Workforce Lost Employment In 2020 – Report

Written by on September 21, 2021

At least 20 per cent of the full-time workforce in Nigeria lost employment during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a new report released on Tuesday has revealed.

The report tagged ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Business Enterprises in Nigeria’, was jointly released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Based on in-depth interviews with almost 3,000 businesses from both formal and informal sectors across major industries of the economy, the report assesses the impact of COVID-19 on business enterprises in the country.

“While there have been promising signs of recovery this year, COVID-19 has had an outsized socio-economic impact on Nigeria,” it said.

“From disruptions in supply chains to ongoing supply and demand shocks and a drop in consumer confidence, these challenges are expected to leave a lasting impact on the businesses and enterprises that make up the backbone of the economy.”

The report also highlighted the significant decline in revenue faced by enterprises and establishments across the country due to the pandemic.

It indicated that 81 per cent of enterprises interviewed, experienced a decline in revenue and 73 per cent stated that they faced liquidity challenges due to secondary impacts of the pandemic in 2020.

Data from the report showed that the median loss in revenue remained at 44 per cent, in comparison to 2019 revenues while about 60 per cent of enterprises surveyed experienced an increase in operational costs, with the price of raw materials and logistics being the top two contributors to the increase.

Other operational challenges included access to credit and capital, high expenditure on utilities, and inadequate social safety net, especially for informal enterprises.

In addition, the report revealed that one in three business enterprises surveyed indicated that some businesses have permanently closed due to operational challenges resulting from the pandemic.

In his remarks, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr Simon Harry, highlighted the importance of the survey results.

“As the economy begins to show signs of gradual growth, this report contains important information that can guide policymakers in their interventions to mitigate the negative socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 in the country,” he said.


“I wish to thank UNDP for collaborating with the National Bureau of Statistics on this important report and I urge other development partners to emulate this worthy endeavour by partnering with the Bureau in matters relating to data generation in the country.

“Although the report findings highlight the complex challenges the economy continues to face because of COVID-19, it also tells a powerful story of innovation, resilience, and strength as Nigerian businesses leverage their ingenuity to adjust to this new normal.”

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Mohamed Yahya, on his part, said, “As Nigeria mobilises to recover from the devastating health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic, this report will be a critical tool in informing targeted policymaking and programme interventions for both medium and long-term planning as the country rebuilds.”

According to the report, businesses are likely to continue experiencing the impact of the pandemic even after the easing of public health measures.

Despite reduced restrictions at the time of the interviews, 74 per cent of enterprises still reported a decrease in production levels when compared to the same time in 2019.

Read some quick facts in the report below:


  • 80 per cent of enterprises reported experienced a decrease in production with a majority reporting a decline in production between 21 per cent to 60 per cent.

  • Against the backdrop of a decline in production of goods and services and an increase in operational costs, 55 per cent of business enterprises were utilising less than 60 per cent of their capacity.

  • To counter the impact of containment measures on operations, 77 per cent of business enterprises reported that they either reduced working hours, or either temporarily or permanently had to lay off workers.

  • The findings also reveal a level of uncertainty plaguing enterprises around the country with 61 per cent of enterprises expressing low confidence in relation to outlook on the future, where their perception of their capacity to operate uninterrupted, under the current circumstances, was less than one year.

  • A small minority of businesses, however, reported positive gains during the pandemic with 19 per cent of enterprises reporting an increase in revenue with higher proportions of enterprises in the utilities, financial and insurance, as well as human and health services sectors registered revenue gains over the course of the pandemic, compared to the year before.

  • Mirroring broader global movement towards e-commerce and direct distribution to consumers to reduce health risks and overcome hurdles imposed by pandemic restrictions, 15 per cent of the enterprises expanded either products and services offered or their sales and distribution channels.

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