Labour Day
Unemployed Kenyans hold placards on the side of the road clinging on the faith that someone will spot them and give them a job. Unemployment numbers in Kenya doubled in Q2 2020.

Some 1.7 million Kenyans lost their jobs between April and June this year as the number of unemployed Kenyans increased to 4.63 million from the 2.94 million people posted between January and March, the Quarterly Labour Force Report shows.

The report authored by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows a worrying trend of the ever-increasing number of Kenyans who are not gainfully employed given the number of unemployed Kenyans between April and June 2019 stood at 2.32 million.

With the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the situation is likely to exacerbate given that companies have kept reporting the inability to sustain their employees leading to layoffs.

The report shows that the number of employed Kenyans in Q2 2020 (April-June 2020) stood at 15.87 million down from 17.58 million in Q1 2020 (January-June 2020) and 17.79 million in Q2 2019.

That represents decreases of 1.7 million jobs and 203,839 jobs respectively.

For context the number of Kenyans ready for the job market in Q2 2020 stood at 17.71 million, Q1 2020 (18.55 million) and Q2 2019 (18.67 million).

The unemployment rate as per the report has also been on an upward trajectory closing Q2 2020 at 10.4%, Q1 2020 at 5.2%, and Q2 2019 at 4.7%.

The numbers of Kenyans who have remained unemployed in the long term have also been rising steadily closing Q2 2020 at 551,563 (3.1%), Q1 2020 at 377,859 (2.0%), and Q2 2019 at 481,118 (2.6%).

Conversely, the number of inactive Kenyans defined as those not currently in the labour force stood at 9.77 million in Q2 2020, 8.76 million in Q1 2020 and 8.1 million in Q2 2019.

The loss of jobs comes in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic which has ravaged all sectors of the economy especially the tourism &hospitality and the aviation sectors on their knees.

The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) in its special COVID-19 bulletin had projected that the measures taken by the government to limit the spread of the disease would lead to reduced incomes and loss of jobs.

“The work from home directive, the prohibition of public gatherings, closure of bars and restaurants, and dusk to dawn curfew have resulted in reduced working hours with some institutions, especially MSMEs with unstable cash flows, having to lay off workers or at least requiring them to take unpaid leave for an unspecified period of time. This has resulted in declining incomes and has adversely affected aggregate demand,” the PBO noted in its bulletin.

Job Losses

Kenya Airways has already indicated that it plans to sack half of its pilots in the coming months to cut on costs.

The Fairmont Group of hotels sent packing all its employees and announced plans to exit the Kenyan market before the Kenyan government intervened asking for explanations behind the mass sackings.

DT Dobie, Standard Group, Tuskys, East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) are some of the other companies that have laid off employees to safeguard their futures.

As other companies part ways with their employees perennial profit makers i.e the banks have had the most torrid year in recent memory with their profits shrinking considerably save for a few pegged back by the need to restructure loans to customers in light of the current economic situation.

Meanwhile, another report authored by KNBS shows that a third of Kenyans are unable to pay their rent due to the disruption of their income earners by the pandemic.

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