Science Journal of Economics Volume 2012,September 2012

Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research Article


JOBLESS GROWTH, THE 'ACTIVE POOR' PHENOMENON AND YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN CROSS RIVER STATE, NIGERIA: Learning Points from 'Europe 2020' Flagship Initiative 'Agenda for New Skills and Jobs'

Author: 1Uwem Essia, 2Ndem Ayara

1Department of Economics, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria

2State Planning Commission, Cross River State

Accepted 22 August 2012; Available Online 05 September 2012

doi: 10.7237/sje/108


Many young people belong to households where the members live on less than USD2 per day; such persons constitute what is referred to here as the 'active poor' population. They are 'active' because of the immense youthful energies at their disposal, and are 'poor' because they are either jobless, or have jobs that pay much less than is adequate for decent living. Globally the 'active poor' phenomenon thrives alongside healthy macroeconomic performance, popularizing the paradox of 'jobless growth'. Based on demographic data obtained from Cross River State, Nigeria, the paper argues that 'active poor' phenomenon is the product of a demographic misfortune whereby many youths, due to the early death, morbidity or poverty of their parents, become orphaned, neglected or abandoned too early in life and grow into adulthood without adequate nutritional nourishment, parental love and nurturing, and sound education and healthcare, and therefore lack the emotional and technical competencies and connections to get high flying jobs or startup new businesses for themselves. The 'active poor' population is highly vulnerable to sundry criminality, illegal rent seeking, vileness, and hooliganism, which unabated can snowball into a Malthusian-type catastrophic retrenchment. Drawing on lessons from the efforts of other countries to create more jobs, the paper observes that new jobs in the private sector and self employment are key areas to focus on for sustainable employment generation. Job search and improving labour market information can reduce unemployment, and the mismatch between skill sets and labour market demand requires periodic revision of school curricula and strong education-business partnerships. Equally, a macroeconomic and business environment conducive to enterprise development is essential and while governments are responsible for developing macroeconomic policies, effective dialogue with relevant non-state actors is essential.

Keyword:Active Poor, youth unemployment, business environment, jobless growth, entrepreneurship, Malthusian thesis