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Effects of COVID-19 on the job Market

Like other parts of the world, people in the East African country of Kenya are fast losing jobs due to the contraction of the economy arising out of the lockdown enforced to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Many who were regaling in riches just months ago are now fighting for meals and bare necessities. The jobs, considered dirty like cleaning streets, unclogging drains are now much sought after, as long as they bring some money to buy food.

Many Kenyans used to pay around 30,000 Kenyan shillings rent and spend about 50,000 Kenyan shillings to buy other household stuff every month. They could still save and live a happier life after paying the school fee of their children she said.

After the outbreak of the pandemic in March, the hotel and restaurant industry took the first hit.

No one was visiting the hotels. Many were asked to stay home for two months on paid leave. Later they were informed that they were no longer employed. The restaurants had to shut down and that’s how many people lost their jobs

Speaking to HRMD, Wanjiku a former hotel worker said she has moved from a two-bedroom house to a single room, with her siblings and her daughter.

Timothy Otieno,26, feels lucky for having a government job. Just a few months ago, he was loathed by friends for doing dirty jobs like unclogging drains.

“Now everyone is battling for these jobs which were considered “dirty. People are willing to clean streets, unclog drainage systems. Youth are willing to do anything to get money,” he said.

According to a report released by the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics on Sept. 1 2020, the unemployment rate has doubled to 10.4% as compared to 5.2% in March. As many as 1.7 million Kenyans have lost jobs.

Sharp drop in listing of jobs

The number of employed individuals in Kenya has shrunk from 17.8 million to 15.9 million. More worrying is that the age bracket affected by unemployment is from 20-29 years.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the employment sector hard across the world with job losses being recorded in millions. The Kenyan job market has not been spared by the scourge. There has been a drop in the number of job listings by career websites,” said Zipporah from HRMD.

in addition to job losses, there has been underutilization of labor due to COVID-19 related restriction.

On the effects on youth, since this section of the population is employed largely by the informal sector, they have taken a disproportionate hit, which has the potential to increase the crime rate in the country.

With Kenya relaxing COVID-19 mitigation measures some businesses have picked up with most people utilizing digital applications in the delivery of goods and services which might improve the employment status of the East African country.


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