EDITORIAL: Stop downplaying rising unemployment in Kenya


Jobseekers in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

In a clear case of downplaying the rising unemployment problem in the country, the latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)  report only raised more queries than answers.

The report released last week showed that the unemployment rate had declined steadily over the last 10 years to stand at 7.4 per cent at the end of 2016.

According to the State agency, a household survey it conducted in 2015/16 found that the proportion of unemployed Kenyans had shrunk to 7.4 per cent.

This is quite laughable given that the unemployment problem in the country has been growing at a worrying pace. If the government wants Kenyans to believe its figures it must should start by releasing candid data that reflects the reality on the ground.

KNBS must produce credible reports and should not hide under technicalities.

Last week’s unemployment report is unbelievable as it is not a true reflection of the real situation.

The agency argued that it came up with the figure after sampling 24,000 households and considered those unemployed as those who were actively job hunting and available to take up a job.

READ: Queries as State says only 7.4pc jobless

We opine that this is a flawed methodology as it does not capture the many frustrated jobseekers who have given up hope of getting jobs.

This is a key demographic that our data crunchers should not ignore. It is wrong not to factor the many youth who remain unemployed merely because they are not actively looking for work.

The fact remains that they are not employed and their number only keeps growing.

Unemployment is a ticking time bomb that must be defused quickly. We must not forget that there is a correlation between high unemployment rates and rising crime and violence.

Something must be done to ease the problem. The fact remains that we cannot bury the matter by releasing vague data.