Half of Kenya’s unemployed give up looking for work

Economy

Half of Kenya’s unemployed give up looking for work


Graduates line up for job interviews. PHOTO FILE | NMG

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Summary

  • The majority of those who left employment are aged 20 to 24 with 363,018, followed by 25-29 with 232,146.
  • The 20-24 year old demographic is predominantly young graduates whose job search efforts are hampered by lack of experience and the mismatch between skills and job vacancies.
  • The large number of new entrants to the labor market each year has also led to limited opportunities.

Half of unemployed Kenyans have given up looking for work, discouraged by reduced opportunities in a tough economy that has seen many businesses downsize in an attempt to survive.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data covering the quarter ended March 2021 shows that 1.23 million out of a total of 2.49 million unemployed Kenyans aged 15 to 64 – and who qualify for enter the labor market – were not actively looking for a job. .

The majority of those who left employment are aged 20 to 24 with 363,018, followed by 25-29 with 232,146.

The 20-24 year old demographic is made up mostly of young graduates whose job search efforts are hampered by lack of experience and the mismatch between skills and job vacancies.

The large number of new entrants to the labor market each year has also led to limited opportunities, forcing many to seek alternatives such as starting small businesses.

Since March 2020, many companies have been unable to hire more workers due to economic problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many resorting to layoffs or pay cuts to survive.

“It reflects the reality of the current economy, depending on the sector. As long as businesses are not fully recovered and people are faced with uncertainties and more and more people are unemployed, job seekers realize that their chances of getting a job are very slim ” , said Jacqueline Mugo, executive director of the Kenya Employers’ Federation (FKE).

The government considers unemployed people who do not have a job and who have actively looked for work in recent weeks and who are currently available for work.

These persons numbered 1.26 million during the period under review, out of a total of 2.49 million unemployed persons.

The remaining 1.23 million are classified as a potential labor force, which means that they are people of working age who have made no effort to seek employment even if they are available and willing to work, or looked for a job but were not available for a job. even if the opportunity presented itself.

In the previous quarter (four of 2020), the number of unemployed stood at 1.04 million, while those not actively looking for work stood at 1.52 million.

The decline in the total number of unemployed is seen as a sign of the continued recovery of the economy, which was hit hardest between the second and third quarters of last year.

In total, nearly 730,000 jobs were lost in 2020 due to the pandemic, which caused the economy to contract by 0.3%. The sectors most affected have been hospitality, transport, support services and education, due to restrictions, closures and the closure of schools for nine months.

These sectors are recovering, although the threat of new strains of Covid and the continuing difficulties in accessing credit mean that this recovery is slow.

“Unless these are emerging sectors like information technology, most companies are not hiring and even struggling to retain their current workforce. Potential workers are therefore biding their time to survive day to day until they see an element of recovery, ”Ms. Mugo said.

Better growth prospects for the rest of the year point to a continued recovery in employment, particularly in hotels and manufacturing.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said yesterday that it expects the economy to grow 6.1% this year and 5.6% in 2022.

The projection is supported by better economic indicators in manufacturing, transportation, wholesale and retail trade.

The CBK, however, flagged the job-generating agricultural sector as a concern for the year, saying its growth would likely be compromised by poor weather and supply constraints.

Agriculture generates the most jobs because of the long value chain that stretches from input sellers, farm workers, transporters, processors and retailers to markets.

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