skip to main content
Despite Nigeria's Economic Growth, Few Have "Good Jobs"

Despite Nigeria's Economic Growth, Few Have "Good Jobs"

by Kolawole Mudele

SAN FRANCISCO -- Just 9% Nigerians in 2012 said they work full time for an employer -- a key measure of "good jobs" that Gallup refers to as "Payroll to Population" or P2P. By contrast, a sizable percentage of Nigerians are underemployed or work as "casual" laborers. Nigeria's P2P rate is low even relative to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, although its per-capita GDP of $2,420 is above the $1,580 median among 27 countries Gallup surveyed in the region. This seeming contradiction underscores that the country's growth rests primarily on oil production and does not necessarily imply economic opportunities are expanding for most residents.


Economically, sub-Saharan Africa is now the second fastest-growing region worldwide. Though growth patterns vary substantially within the region, Nigeria is one of the oil-based economies driving the subcontinent's economic growth. The country's oil sector continues to see average annual growth of about 8%, compared with -0.35% for its non-oil sector. Annual growth rates in Nigeria have averaged more than 7% in the last decade, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

According to a recent report by the Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights in Nigeria, 45% of the Nigerian workforce relies on "casual" employment, including low-skilled informal and/or intermittent occupations. Employers are increasingly filling formerly permanent positions in their organizations with casual employees.

Further, improvements in social welfare indicators in Nigeria have been much slower than would be expected in the context of the country's economic growth. As a 2013 World Bank report outlined, "Poverty reduction and job creation have not kept pace with population growth, implying social distress for an increasing number of Nigerians." With more than two-thirds of population living on less than $1.25 per day, Nigeria ranks 153 out of 186 countries in the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index.

Engagement Low Among Employed Nigerians

Among Nigerians who say they work full time or part time for employers, 12% are engaged in their work, according to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report. In other words, about one in eight employed Nigerians feel an emotional connection to their workplaces and are committed to adding value to their organizations. About two-thirds of employed Nigerians (65%) are "not engaged," implying they lack motivation and are essentially just killing time at work. The remaining 23% are "actively disengaged," meaning they harbor negative feelings toward their employer and undermine the work of other employees.

As in the rest of the sub-Saharan Africa, low engagement among Nigerian employees carries significant implications for formal-sector job growth because engaged workplaces are most likely to be engines of job creation. Among 26 countries Gallup surveyed across the subcontinent, 61% of engaged workers said their company was expanding the size of its workforce, but 26% of actively disengaged workers said the same about their own workplace.

Bottom Line

Experts note that job creation should be the focus of all African countries' development policies to ensure that economic growth is inclusive and that more of the subcontinent's vast youth population can participate in their country's formal economy. Many Nigerians would likely agree: When presented in 2012 with a list of issues their government could address in the next 12 months, 34% chose job creation as the most important, edging out corruption (31%) as the most commonly chosen issue.

The creation of more jobs that give employees a sense of security and self-worth is a critical task in addressing Nigeria's dismal human development record and diversifying its economy. Nigerian businesses must learn to unlock their employees' potential as a primary source of competitive advantage in an environment where "human capital" tends to be vastly undervalued.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.

Survey Methods

Results are based on two surveys consisting of face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in March 2012 and November 2012 in Nigeria. Nigeria's employee engagement results are based on interviews with 431 Nigerians who indicated they worked for an employer. The margin of sampling error for reported engagement percentages is ±6 percentage points. For more information about Gallup's worldwide employee engagement research, see the full State of the Global Workplace report.

Surveys conducted in 2012 across sub-Saharan Africa consist of face-to-face interviews with 1,000 to 2,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in each country. The margin of error ranges from ±2 percentage points to ±6.5 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030