Kenya’s unemployment rate doubles to 10.4 percent in second quarter due to COVID-19


Kenya’s unemployment rates doubled to 10.4 percent in the second quarter compared to 5.2 percent in the first quarter due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government statistics agency said on Tuesday.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the unemployment rate was also higher than the 4.7 percent registered between April and June 2019.

“The highest proportion of the unemployed was recorded in the age groups 20-24 and 25-29, each registering over 20 percent. The same age groups also had the highest increase of over 10 percent each in unemployment over the 3 months reference period,” KNBS said in its quarterly labor force survey (QLFS).

The report indicates a significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both unemployment and underemployment.

KNBS said that the labor underutilization (LU2), which is the combined rate of time-related underemployment and unemployment more than doubled to 17.2 percent in the second quarter compared to 8.3 percent recorded in the previous quarter.

The findings show that the number of people who were time-related underemployed increased from 577,443 in the first quarter to 1.19 million in the second quarter with the highest rate of labor underutilization being observed in the age group 20-24 at 32.7 percent.

The review indicates that persons aged 20 to 29 years recorded an overall increase of more than 16 percentage points in labor underutilization during the review period.

The survey reveals that the overall employment to population ratio in the country, for the working-age population, was 57.7 percent in the second quarter compared to 64.4 percent recorded in the first quarter which was a decline from what was recorded in the same quarter in 2019.

The results indicate that the long-term unemployment rate was 3.1 percent, which was higher than the 2.0 percent rate recorded in the first quarter.

“The long-term unemployment rate was also higher compared to the rate in the same quarter in 2019. The youth aged 20-24 had the highest rate of long-term unemployment at 7.9 percent,” says the quarterly labor force survey.

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