Where are the jobs? Youth ask amid worrying trend of lay offs

By , K24 Digital
On Sun, 27 Oct, 2019 19:35 | 3 mins read
NYS garment factory
Kenya's economy is growing, according to the Economic Survey 2019. PHOTO | FILE
Kenya's economy is growing, according to the Economic Survey 2019. PHOTO | FILE

Kenya's economy may be growing but thousands of locals have been sacked in what seems to be a pattern of cost-cutting measures by firms.

Before 2019 ends, nearly 7,000 Kenyans, or more, will have lost their jobs, and thousands of college graduates will have a spent a whole searching for gainful employment.

Several solutions have been mulled, including urging the youth to venture into agriculture to fill a gap in food production to feed the ever-growing urban areas where the unemployed troop to in search of opportunities.

But the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Economic Survey 2019 paints a rosy picture, of an economy that is still creating thousands of jobs.


While it is estimated that 900,000 youth enter the job market annually, higher than the 840,600 jobs created last year, the economy only created 78,400 jobs in the formal sector, representing a six-year low and just 9 percent of overall new employment.

More worrying is the frequency of reports of companies that are sending home workers, citing oversupply and increased cost of running businesses.

So far, more than 10 companies have laid off workers or announced plans to cut their workforce in 2019, namely: Finlays, Air Afrik, SportPesa, Betin, Andela, East African Portland Cement, Telkom Kenya, Sanlam, Stanbic Bank, East African Breweries Ltd and Kenya Commercial Bank.

The Economic Survey reveals that the number of self-employed people and unpaid family workers within the modern sector was estimated to have increased from 139, 400 in 2017 to 152,200 in 2018.

But the informal sector, according to the KNBS report, created nearly 10 times the number of jobs the formal sector with 762, 100 new jobs in 2018 compared to 794, 400 the previous year.

In the public sector, total employment went up from 833, 100 persons in 2017 to 842,000 persons in 2018, an increase of 1.2 per cent, a decline attributed to expiry of electoral commission jobs.

Other economic activities in the public sector that realised jobs growth were professional, scientific and technical activities, water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities and financial and insurance activities which grew by 3.2, 3.1 and 2.7 per cent, respectively.

Employment by county governments also rose from 175, 500 jobs in 2017 to 178, 7000 jobs in 2018, growth linked to continued employment of staff to perform devolved functions.

Teachers Service Commission, which is the largest employer in the public sector registered a 3.5 per cent growth in employment in 2018.

Gender ratio

The number of females in wage employment increased by 9.8 per cent from 914,500 in 2017 to 1,004,200.

Similarly, the number of males in the wage employment also went up marginally to 1,743,900 over the same period.

Employment of women was predominant in households and human health and social work activities at 60.6 per cent and 57.7 per cent respectively.

There was a minimal disparity between women and men employees in the education industry, during the review period.

Average earnings

The overall annual average earnings per employee increased by 7.6 per cent from KSh 666,241.1 (Sh55,520 monthly) in 2017 to KSh 716,934.7 (Sh59,744 monthly income) in 2018.

The annual average earnings in the private sector increased by 7.6 per cent to 731.4 thousand (Sh60,950 monthly) in 2018, compared to a similar growth in the public sector, over the same period.

Analysis shows that there is low participation of women in wage employment in most industrial activities.

Although economic growth has accelerated in the past decade, a prosperous society for all Kenyans has not yet been achieved and there is a palpable feeling that things are getting worse, especially coupled with the increased national debt.