Census: 2 in 5 of Kenyan youth are unemployed

“The conventional population of youth aged 18 to 34 was 13.7 million, out of which 61 percent were working while 1.6 million were seeking work or indicated that there was no work available,” stated KNBS Director-General Zachary Mwangi during the release of the findings.

This means that more 3.7 million people between the ages of 18 and 34 years who are outside employment are not looking for work.

Mr Mwangi said the country has 18.9 million people not involved in any economic activity, out of which 16.1 million were full time students while 1.5 million were home-makers. 22.9 million or 48.2 percent of the population are below 17 years, pointing to a wave of millions of jobseekers joining the market.

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics defines the unemployed as people who do not have a job and have actively been looking for employment in the past four weeks. In Kenya, about 762,200 jobs were created in 2018 while the economy expanded by 6.3 percent, well outperforming the global and regional averages. But 90 percent of the new jobs are in the poorly-paid informal sector.

Official data shows that 78,400 new formal jobs were created in the economy in 2018 compared to 114,400 in 2017, Economic Survey 2019 data shows.

This is the slowest pace of formal job growth since 2012 when the economy churned out 75,000, adding to the crisis of youth unemployment. The data does not capture job cuts and net employment.

By contrast, more than 560,000 students enrolled in university last year, worsening the plight of school leavers.

Economic inequality

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge recently faulted the structure of Kenya’s economy for delivering economic growth without jobs and a rise in income, arguing that increased infrastructure spending has not spread wealth among working Kenyans.

“It is true you have GDP numbers but you can’t eat GDP. At the end of the day, what is needed is specific income. That is what anybody else wants plus jobs,” said Dr Njoroge.

Kenya has since 2013 embarked on major infrastructure projects to make up for decades of under-investment that stunted economic growth.This is underlined by the construction of the standard gauge railway line from Mombasa to Naivasha using nearly Sh500 billion of Chinese loans in a borrowing binge that economists say is saddling future generations with too much debt.While Kenya’s economy expanded […]

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