Kenya Unemployment Reality Check
Kenyan unemployment rate has been on a steady rise since touching a bottom of 12.70% during the 2006 financial year. Last published unemployment data was in 2013 which stated that unemployment rate had reached 40% of the active labor force. With simple extrapolation, Kenyan unemployment rate may be well over 50% of the active labor force today.
The unemployment rate is a measure of people actively looking for a job as percentage of the labor force. This rate is an important indicator of any economy performance among other indicators like gross domestic product and inflation figures.
The Kenyan government has been concerned about the unemployment rate in the country but no viable solution has been put in place as of yet. One may be quick to point a finger indicating failure from the government except that the economic situation of the country has more to do with the unemployment problem.
Kenya is a consumer driven economy and most of the products consumed in our local market are imported (Kenya trade deficit widened to 114,283 million shillings in November of 2015 from 78,707 million shillings a year earlier. Imports went up by 34 percent and exports by 13.4 percent). This means that we do not produce what we consume hence our labor force remains unutilized. This creates a slack in the economy since fewer people are productive while they support the majority who are idle.
This scenario of fewer people working while the majority remains idle may seem trivial in the short run but the ripple effect can explain most of our economic woes. Low savings, low investment, high dependency ratio and high crime rate in the population are some of the results of low employment figures.
What this means for you
Graduates are continuously streaming into the already flooded employment market looking for jobs. The scenario may worsen in the near future as universities continue to increase their intake (student enrollment in universities rose by 34.90% to reach 324,560 in 2013 from 240,551 in 2012) whereas the economy growth continues to stagnate (Gross domestic product has been around 5% for the last 5 years).
Self employment and entrepreneurship may be the way to go as it takes an average of five years for a graduate to secure a job in Kenya. By employing yourself, you will be in a position to secure your future and the country’s future by generating further employment and capital surplus. Doing this is hitting two birds with one stone, while securing your future you would have inadvertently served your country.