738,000 Kenyans lost jobs to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 according to stats from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
738,000 Kenyans lost jobs to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 according to stats from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). Employment in 2020 declined by 4.1 percent to 17.405 million from a higher 18.143 million at the end of 2019.
According to the stats, jobs in the informal sector were hit hard with 544,000 Kenyans becoming jobless in comparison to 194,000 jobs lost in the formal sector. With 2.897 million, formal jobs now stand at their lowest since 2017 but informal jobs.
The informal sector remains the greatest contributor of jobs in the Kenyan economy representing about 83.4 percent of total recorded employment by the government in 2020. The informal sector is made up of Small Medium Enterprises (SME).
The number of wage employees in modern establishments stood at 2.741 million while the number of self-employed and unpaid family workers stood at 156,000. The government says it is working towards increasing employment opportunities among Kenyans.
The ratio of private-sector employment to total employment declined to 67.7 percent in 2020 in contrast to 70.5 percent in 2019. The loss in jobs comes even as World Bank says that should create at least 900,000 jobs annually to deal with the unemployment crisis between 2019 and 2025.
“Confirmation of the existence of the (Covid-19) disease necessitated taking drastic measures by the government, to curb the spread of the virus and to minimize the risk of infections at workplaces,” KNBS says.
At the same time, Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 0.31 percent last year from a 5.0 percent growth in 2019 on the back of Covid-19 knocks on economic activities such as tourism and education. This was the first annual GDP contraction since 1992 when the output slid 0.8 percent.
As the pandemic continues to sweep across the country, the number of job losses, especially in the SME sector is expected to continue.