November 28, 2022


Most Kenyans, 29 percent, rely on casual employment to get by…

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Kenya Employment Survey – Under 10 Percent in Full-Time Work

Kenya Employment Survey – Under 10 Percent in Full-Time Work

Photo courtesy Financial Fortune Media

The figures would be shocking if they weren’t so sadly believable. Under 10 percent of Kenyan adults are in full time work according to a survey conducted jointly by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), FSD Kenya and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

The 2021 ‘Finances Household Survey’ shows that most Kenyans, 29 percent, rely on casual employment to get by; 25 percent are dependent on others to survive; 23 percent are dependent on agriculture for their income; and only 14 percent run their own business.

Source of Livelihood %
Casuals 29
Dependent on others 25
Dependent on agriculture 23
Own business 14
Formal employment 9

Nairobi City, Taita-Taveta, Kiambu, Bungoma and Tranz Nzoia head the list of counties with the highest full-time employment rate, whilst Kwale, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, Wajr and Garissa propped up the list being the lowest five counties in terms of formal employment (see tables below).

Employment rate top 5 counties %
Nairobi City 25.1
Taita-Taveta 18.9
Kiambu 18.7
Bungoma 16.4
Tranz Nzoia 14.5
Employment rate bottom 5 counties %
Kwale 3.6
Elgeyo Marakwet 3.6
Turkana 3.4
Wajir 3.3
Garissa 2.2

Although Kenya’s relatively strong economy had produced more jobs over recent years the are mainly low-paid and informal sector.

No ‘Demographic Dividend’

There is little sign that Kenya’s growing young population are in a position to drive what has been termed the ‘Demographic Dividend’, a virtuous cycle as a larger young population enjoy higher employment that enriches the country which in turn drives further employment. [See also ‘Kenya’s Population Growth Challenges’, The Kenya Forum, Dec 19, 2020]

The survey shows that it is the youth who face higher unemployment rates compared to those aged over 35 years old.

Kenya’s economy has, in terms of employment, showed a returning robustness following the Covid-19 pandemic. 173,000 were ‘created’ in 2021, the highest growth for six years when 213,000 jobs were created in 2015.


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