By James Emejo
About 81 per cent of the working population has returned to work following the decision of the federal government to ease lockdown restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country.
The number indicated a substantial rise towards pre-crisis levels occasioned by the pandemic, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stated Wednesday.
According to the Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (COVID-19 NLPS) for July, which was released by the statistical agency Wednesday, 81 per cent of Nigerians reported that they were working, demonstrating that the share of respondents working recovered substantially as the lockdown restrictions were eased in May and June.
The report, however, pointed out that the recovery had differed between urban and rural areas as the share of rural respondents who were working in July had reached the levels witnessed prior to the outbreak, while the share of urban respondents who were working is still 11 percentage points lower than what was reported prior to the outbreak.
It noted that the initial drop in the share of respondents who were working was larger for urban dwellers, which may partially explain why the recovery had been slower for them.
The agriculture sector experienced the largest recovery in the share of workers returning to work.
The NBS stated that of the 57 per cent of respondents who were not working in April/May, about 76 per cent had returned to work by July, while around 24 per cent were still not working.
The report however stated that economic shocks continued to affect Nigerian households, with little improvement since April/May.
The NBS said the most widely experienced shocks were evident in the increases in the prices of both major
food items consumed which had affected 90 per cent of households.
Also, increase in farming/business inputs affected 64 per cent of households.
According to the statistical agency, the share of households experiencing the two shocks had also increased since April/May.
The NBS said: “Households continue to experience job losses, disruption to farming, livestock and fishing activities, as well as a fall in the price of farming/business outputs, although the share of households reporting these shocks seems to have dropped marginally, compared to April/May.”
It further pointed out that the share of households receiving remittances, safety nets and other forms of assistance from institutions appeared to have reduced since the beginning of the pandemic, despite a significant number of households remaining vulnerable.
It stated: “The share of households receiving food assistance decreased from 12 per cent in April/May to 6 per cent in July. This could partially be attributed to the suspension of the school feeding programme due to the academic break over the summer.
“Similarly, remittances from both within and outside Nigeria seem to be diminishing, as the percentage of households who received domestic remittances from family members fell from 22 per cent in April/May to 12 per cent in July.
“This potentially reflects the precariousness of income sources in sending households. There was, however, an increase in the share of households receiving income from properties, investments and savings.”