All work but no wage for 15 million Kenyans


Three quarters of Kenyan workers are not paid for the work they do, according to a new survey.

Many of them are employed in family-owned businesses or farms.

Kenya has 20.2 million people of working age. Of these, 15.4 million — 76.3 per cent — are not paid for their labour, according to the report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Society for International Development.

Only 4.8 million Kenyans who are of working age have paying jobs, according to the survey to be published Tuesday.

Nationally, 7.7 per cent of people aged between 15 and 64 years are idle, with no source of income. Overall, the proportion of the idle is much higher in towns than in rural areas.

In Nairobi, 11.3 per cent of those who should be in jobs are unemployed, making it the county with the highest level of unemployment.


Nyamira County, on the other hand, has the lowest unemployment rate at 2.6 per cent. Bomet, Tharaka Nithi, Kirinyaga, Kisii, Nyandarua, Bungoma and Narok are the other counties with the low numbers of the unemployed.

The report also said that the level of education, as expected, determines the job opportunities available, with those having a secondary education and above having an edge over the others.

At the household level, families headed by men with secondary education and above were better off than those headed by women with primary education and below.

At the county level, Nairobi had the highest proportion of people in paying jobs at 47 per cent. The others are interns, students or simply unemployed.

It was followed by Mombasa with 41 per cent and then Kiambu with 38 per cent. Turkana and Wajir counties had the least number of the employed at six per cent. The situation was worse in Wajir county, where 23.1 per cent of the population had no jobs at all.

“The proportion of people working for pay in Nairobi county is eight times more than the proportion of people working for pay in Wajir and Turkana counties,” the report says.

In the urban areas, 16 per cent of the workers are engaged in family businesses while 11 per cent are involved in family agricultural holdings.

In rural areas, nearly half of the working people are involved in family agricultural holdings.


This means that majority of the country’s productive population is engaged in agriculture (32.0 per cent) although they have no income to show for it.

“Kenya is characterised by a labour market that includes household based enterprises, subsistence agriculture and a small wage sector,” the report titled: ‘Exploring Kenya’s Inequality: Pulling Apart or Pooling Together’, says.

The study also found out that those with secondary education have most jobs for pay while those with no education had a large stake in family agricultural holdings.

The survey found out that 7.3 per cent of people with secondary education and 6.5 per cent of those who had primary education had no work. It also indicates that most of those who were retired or were homemakers had no education.

In the rural areas, 50 per cent of the people without an education were engaged with family agricultural holding. However, some 20 per cent of the people with secondary education were working for pay.

The report found that family businesses were controlled by people with no education.

In the towns, 43.2 per cent of the population with secondary education worked for pay, while 18.8 per cent of those with no education had no work at all.

And in a finding that could exacerbate rural-urban migration, the survey found that people working in towns were 2.4 times more likely to get paid for a job than their rural counterparts.




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