During the recent Nairobi gubernatorial debate, the aspiring governors were asked about their plans to tackle unemployment.
One of the aspirants, Miguna Miguna, said unemployment numbers in the country are much higher than reported. “There are 700,000 people employed by the Government at both national and county levels, 1.4 million employed by the private sector and another 2.3 million employed in the informal sector,” he says.
“In fact, 69 per cent of Kenyans are unemployed and among the youth, the number is much higher at 75 per cent.”
This is not entirely accurate. The most recent employment figures from the country’s statistics office indicate that the total number of Kenyans employed in the formal sector stood at 2.5 million as at 2016; 1.8 million in the private sector and 737,800 in the public sector.
The number of employees in the informal sector, on the other hand, has been recorded at 13.3 million with 4.7 million in urban areas and 8.6 million in rural areas.
This means that the total number of Kenyans in employment currently stands at 15.8 million. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that out of around 43 million Kenyans 23 million are within the working age (between the ages of 15 and 64 as at 2014).
This means that the number of unemployed Kenyans of working age stands at 7.2 million, translating to an unemployment rate of 31 per cent, and not 69 per cent as claimed by Miguna.
In terms of youth unemployment, the World Bank says that Kenya has the largest number of young people out of work with the figure rising from 17.4 per cent in 2014 to 20 per cent in 2016.