287,481 Kenyans lost their jobs between January and March – KNBS

An estimated 287,481 Kenyans lost their jobs between January and March this year, new data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The new quarterly report published Saturday paints doom on the country’s employment sector even as it barely scratches the surface in informing the impact of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic which took root in the country in mid March.

The number of employed Kenyans plunged by 1.7 percent in the quarter to 17.8 million from 18.1 million in December 2019.

Similarly, the country’s labour force shrunk 1.6 percent to 18.7 million Kenyans in spite of a marginal growth in the country’s working population defined as those aged between 15 and 64 years to 27.3 million individuals.

Moreover, the number of Kenyans inactive from the labour force defined as those neither looking for employment or are in jobs rose by 4.9 percent to 8.5 million Kenyans from 8.1 million Kenyans in December.

Even so, the unemployment remained unchanged quarter over quarter at 4.9 percent while the rate of the long term unemployed, defined as individuals who have sort for work for more than year without success reduced to 1.9 percent from 2.2 percent in December or an equivalent 357,768 individuals.

Kenyans aged 15 to 19 years were the worst hit by unemployment in the reporting period as the rate of the unemployed in the cohort rose by six percent to 139,097 individuals.

However, youth aged between 20 and 24 years remained the worst hit by the joblessness scourge with the number of the unemployed in the cohort standing at 241,728 individuals or an effective 12.5 percent unemployment rate.

The number of the unemployed in Kenya is however expected to rise through the roof when the statistics office reports new labour data for the second quarter later this year as the Covid-19 pandemic weighs hard on the economy.

Disruptions to economic activity ranging from the partial closure of businesses to the complete devastation of industries such as tourism, hospitality and entertainment is set to see the rate of unemployment in the country rise significantly.

KNBS is expected to make public employment data for the period commencing in April through June at the end of August.

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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