Unemployed Numbers in Kenya Rise By Millions During Covid-19 Pandemic
Kevin Namunwa  |  Sep 2, 2020

Every year, close to 1 million young Kenyans graduate from local institutions and they all aspire to be employed. Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans have already graduated this year, with more expected to graduate before the end of the year.

However, this year, the numbers of the unemployed are increasing at an alarming rate mainly because of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic. The youths who are still graduating this year will join the now long unemployed queue with hopes that an opportunity might come along.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the loss of millions of jobs in just a period of 3 months.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the number of people in employment fell to 15.87 million between April and end of June compared to 17.59 million in the previous quarter.

This means about 1.72 million workers lost jobs in three months to June when Kenya imposed a coronavirus-induced lockdown that led to layoffs and pay cuts. The pandemic affected the local economy badly forcing many corporations to reduce operational costs in an attempt to stay afloat and survive the pandemic.

This is a major blow to jobseekers, especially the close to one million young people who graduate from various educational institutions every year.

Young people were the hardest hit by job cuts compared to their counterparts aged above 35 years in an economic setting that is plagued by a hiring freeze on the back of sluggish corporate earnings.

This is an indication that corporate Kenya was keen to keep experienced staff on their payroll and also points to creating redundancies at the minimal costs to firms struggling to preserve cash amid a plunge in sales.

Young workers between the ages of 20 and 29 years accounted for 63% of the lost jobs or 1,158,466 positions. Those between the ages of 35 and legal retirement age of 50 accounted for 312,316 positions or 17% of the lost jobs.

Even with these numbers, the State defines the unemployed as people who do not have a job and have actively been looking for employment in recent weeks, leaving out those who have given up on landing work.

Jobs are now more difficult to come by, this is a blow to job seekers and recent graduates.