Youth Unemployment Remains High, KNBS Reveals
Dennis Gitau  |  Apr 1, 2020

A staggering four million youths who are qualified for work in the Kenyan market are unemployed as uncovered by the quarterly labour data that the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released on Tuesday.

According to the report, 34.27% (4,066,362) of the 11.8 million Kenyan youth lacked some form of employment as of December when the research data was collected. This made the income discrepancy across age demographics quite apparent.

Youth under 35 years are the worst hit by unemployment in an economy plagued with freezing of hires and struggling corporate earnings.

Adults aged 20-34 account for 14.2% of the jobless people.

Those aged 60-64 years had marginal unemployment rates according to the labour force report. The report will now be published each quarter, a change from the previous annual structure.

 While the country has seen significant economic growth over the years, most of the jobs created are informal and have low pay. On top of this, economists say that the rate of job creation is not enough to cater for the ever-increasing number of people reaching employable age. The state however recognizes only those who do not have any form of employment and have been searching in recent weeks. With this definition, the number of unemployed youth stands at 706,859 (5.96%) for those aged 20-34.  This number, according to the government is a decline from the previous 830,202 (7.14%) seen between January and March 2019.

This definition implies that there are over 3.3 million youth who do not have jobs are not actively looking to get employed.

The report also indicated that 86.52% of 9,115,152 Kenyans within the 35-60 age bracket were employed for the period between October and December 2019.

An estimated 762,200 new jobs were created in 2018 alone thanks to the 6.3% growth seen in the economy, which actually outperformed regional and global averages. A majority of the new jobs were however in the informal sector where there are typically no clearly defined payment structures.

Records indicate that 78,400 formal jobs were created in 2018 as compared to 2017’s 114,400 as discovered by economic survey data in 2019. 2017 had the slowest growth rate in the formal sector since 2012, with only 75,000 new formal jobs created that year.

Jibran Qureishi, a regional economist for Stanbic Bank East Africa. which keeps track of monthly company performance through PMI (Purchasing Manager’s Index), noted that there has been very little improvement, if at all, in the creation of new jobs. This is indicated by the relative neutrality of the employment index since 2017

 This year’s figures will likely take a huge hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because it has had widespread impact on businesses with sectors such as tourism and exports struggling quite a bit. With restrictions such as cancellation of passenger flights also being imposed, the projected economic growth estimate for 2020 has declined from 6.2% to 3.4% as per information released by the CBK— the lowest it has been in 12 years.