Kenya’s unemployment rate was 5.74 percent in 2021. This represents a steady decline from the increase after the financial crisis.
What is unemployment?
The unemployment rate of a country refers to the share of people who want to work but cannot find jobs. This includes workers who have lost jobs and are searching for new ones, workers whose jobs ended due to an economic downturn, and workers for whom there are no jobs because the labor supply in their industry is larger than the number of jobs available. Different statistics suggest which factors contribute to the overall unemployment rate.
The Kenyan context
The first type, so-called “search unemployment”, is hardest to see in the data. The closest proxy is Kenya’s inflation rate. As workers take new jobs faster, employers are forced to increase wages, leading to higher employment. Jobs lost due to economic downturns, called “cyclical unemployment”, can be seen by decreases in the GDP growth rate, which are not significant in Kenya. Finally, “structural unemployment” refers to workers changing the industry, or even economic sector, in which they are working. In Kenya, more and more workers switch to the services sector. This is often a result of urbanization, but any structural shift in the economy’s composition can lead to this unemployment.
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