Unemployment has been one of the most persistent and un-manageable problems facing all industrial countries of the world. It has been noted as a macroeconomic and social problem. In October 1982, the 13th International Conference of Labour Statisticians adopted a new resolution concerning the statistics of the economically active employment and unemployment, they defined unemployment as persons above a specified age who during the reference period were without work including the unemployed graduates, school leavers, home makers and other persons mainly those engaged in non-economic activities who are at the same time seeking for work and are available for work.

The term unemployment could be used in relation to all the factors of production with reference to labour. Unemployment produces both economic and non-economic costs. This cost differs from individuals and societies. For individuals most economic cost of unemployment is loss of income that the persons would have received if employed. For the societies it is the goods and services that would have been produced by the unemployed.

Non-economic cost is found among unemployed persons who experience anxiety, depression and loss of self esteem. A rise in unemployment rate is associated with high incidence of alcoholism and drug abuse as well as increase in crime and suicide rate, high rate of family divorce and incidence of child abuse.

The basic economic cost of unemployment is foregone output when the economy fails to create enough jobs for all who are able and willing to work; potential production of goods and services is greatly lost thus unemployment is a waste of manpower. Economic growth leads to a lower law indicates that every 1% point by which the actual unemployment rate exceed the natural rate a negative GDP gap of about 2% decline in real GDP below its productivity GDP occurs.

According to Briggs (1973) unemployment is the difference between the amount of labour employed at current wage rate and working conditions, and the amount of labour hired at these levels. However, Gbosi (1997) defined unemployment as a situation in which people who are willing to work at the prevailing wage rate are unable to find jobs. Unemployment is as a result of the inability to develop and utilize the nations manpower resources effectively especially in the rural sector (Fadayami, 1992; Osimubi, 2006).

In another view of Jimaza (2001) defined it as a situation whereby one has no job and is prepared to take a job at the ongoing wage rate but such job is nowhere to be found. A rise or fall in wage rate depends on the level or variation in the unemployment rate, the amount of unemployment in an economy is measured by unemployment rate which is the percentage of civilian labour force consist of people between 18years of age or older who are unemployed or employed. People not included in the labour force are college students who do not have job and are looking for jobs; it is possible that an increase in current unemployment rate alters the long-run equilibrium of unemployment rate for instance certain unemployed persons may be excluded from the labour market because their productivity is too low to make it profitable to hire them even at a much lower wage rate than the current one.

The controversy over the problem of unemployment revolves around the distinction between voluntary, involuntary, visible and disguised unemployment. However, voluntary unemployment is said to occur when persons choose not to work or accept job for which they are qualified at ongoing wage rate because they have means of support other than employment for instance affluent individuals. Involuntary unemployment is when persons cannot obtain work even if they are willing to accept low real wages than qualified workers who are currently in employment (Arthur, 1968). Visible unemployment exist when persons is without work but are seeking at a given wage rate. Disguised unemployment exist when persons are without work but not openly seeking for work, who will seek for work at ongoing wage rate if unemployment were much lower.

Despite the contention in the above classification the taxonomy of unemployment includes a condition of being out of work, an activity of searching for work, an attitude of desiring a job under certain situation and needing a job (Levine, 1959). Unfortunately, there had been little or no economic growth and development in Nigeria over the period depicted by rising unemployment; the need to avert the negative effects of unemployment has made the budget on unemployment problems to feature very prominently in the development objectives of many developing countries like Nigeria.

Englama (2001), “a person is said or she is able and willing to work and is available for work (that is, the person is actively searching for employment) but does not have work. The international labour organization (ILO) defines the unemployed as numbers of the economically active population who are without work but available for and seeking for work including people who have lost their jobs and those who have voluntarily left work.

There are three ways to become unemployed, some people are sacked, others are temporarily laid off and some people voluntarily quit their existing jobs. But the inflow to unemployment can also come from people not previously in the labour force, school-leavers (new entrants), and people who once have a job then ceased even to register as unemployed, and are now coming back into the labour force in search of a job (re-entrant) (Beggs, 2000). On the other hand there is a situation in which a worker is employed, but not in the desired capacity where in terms of compensation hours, it is called a situation of under employment.

According to NBS, unemployment covers persons age 15 to 64 who during the reference period were currently available for work, seeking for work but were without work, person is unemployed if he or she is engaged in the production of goods and services thereby contributing to the GDP. Unemployment rate rose to 23.90% in the 2011 statistic on unemployment.

According to Lipsey (1963), unemployment brings about economic waste and causes human suffering. The contributions and attitude of this economic waste were emphasized by the fact that the factor services are the least durable economic commodity. The socio-economic effect of unemployment include fall in national output, an increase in rural-urban migration, waste of human resources, high rate of dependency ratio, frustration, poverty and depression, all sort of in moral activities like criminal behaviour, prostitution, armed robbery, and rapping. (Adebayo, 1999).

According to Beggs (2000), unemployment can be generally broken down into several types that are related to different causes including: Classical unemployment occurs where wages are too high to employers due to the main wage laws or trade unions activity. Frictional unemployment exist where there is lack of adjustment between demand and supply of labour; lack of necessary skills, labour immobility, breakdown of plants and machinery, and shortage of raw material; temporary unemployment arising from the normal job search process, it includes people re-entering into the job market after their long absence people who have quit their jobs in search for better ones; people who have been laid off. Structural unemployment arises when jobs are eliminated by changes in the structure of the economy due to technological progress and shift in the demand for goods and services for instance becoming increasingly computerized some workers are losing their job at the same time new jobs such as a computer repairs, technicians and software engineers are employed. Seasonal unemployment results from seasonal fluctuation in demand for instance the employment for ice-cream factories is only for the summer; they remain unemployed during the winter; the agricultural workers who are employed during harvesting and sowing season remain idle for the rest of the year.

Again, inadequate information causes unemployment and this is a source of unemployment that cannot be neglected; if people do not know that jobs are available they will not take them. The major economic shocks such as the problem of great depression, unemployment, and under-employment can be avoided through policy changes; government will stabilize the economy and maintain continuous economic growth.


The problem of unemployment has occupied the mind of scholars, economists, policy makers and international organizations for many years with an increased tension in the last decade. Even though there are different perspectives to unemployment, there is a general consensus that reduction in unemployment will lead to good economic growth and development that will lead to good change manifested in increased capacity of people to have control over material assets, and obtain physical necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter. According to John Maynard Keynes the progressive adjustment of wage involves a negative relationship between nominal wage changes and unemployme curve (1958). The simplest interpretation of this curve is to consider that unemployment exerts downward pressure on nominal wage when there are few unemployed; workers are in a position to obtain higher unemployment because competition among employers to attract workers is intensified by low unemployment.

Following the oil doom in the economy in the 1980, the problem of unemployment started to escalate with the introduction of monetary exchange rates and the inability of most industries to import the raw materials required to improve their output level. In the depression phase demand for goods and services is the minimum, construction of all types of capital goods is at stand still; there is massive unemployment and the economic growth and development of the country suffer. Also the generous unemployment benefit may hinder individuals to look for a job in order to gain access to unemployment benefits. Rapid population growth accompanied by un-precedented inflow of rural migrants generate massive urban problem of rural unemployment. The main aim of government is to attain full employment level but it failed to materialize.

In Lewis model rural to urban migration is one of the demographic characteristic of developing countries and the mechanism theory which revealed that labour transfers physically from agriculture to city based industrial employment thus enhancing the expansion of the modern sector and integration of the two sectors of the dual economy; inward migration to urban area will continue as long as the expected value of earnings of the urban wage exceeds the rural wages. Many people especially those living in rural areas were frustrated by lack of job opportunities, also they include those without work and who have job but want to work for longer hour. A very little attention has been paid to self employment scheme in Nigeria not until in the 1980’s d they adopted the structural adjustment programme (SAP).

To provide a permanent solution to this problem arouse a universal conviction that unemployment is inevitable and it created pessimism that government has no power to bring unemployment trend to a halt; it is not only a severe problem but also has a disquieting effect on the economic, political and society as a whole. According to Damachi (2001) the task of solving unemployment problem is anchored on better utilization of manpower through policies that promote economic growth. The manpower board and national directorate of employment established by the government have not reduced unemployment.


The objectives of this study are as follows:

i.  To determine the relationship between unemployment and economic growth in Nigeria.

ii.  To determine the short-run impact of unemployment on output level in the Nigerian economy.


HO: Unemployment has no significant impact on economic growth in Nigeria.

HI: Unemployment has a significant impact on economic growth in Nigeria.