Survey: 91pc Kenyans unsure of job future due to Covid-19

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020 00:00 | By
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani when he launched the Report on Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Households, yesterday. Photo/Courtesy

Irene Githinji and Zachary Ochuodho

Nine of every 10 Kenyans who are out of employment because of the Covid-19 pandemic disruption are not certain when, and if, they will resume work, a new survey shows. 

Findings by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) established that those unsure of their future comprise 91.2 per cent compared to 3.9 per cent who are optimistic of returning to work in one to three months, while 2.8 per cent expect the layoff to last three to six months.

The report on socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Kenyan  households released yesterday shows that almost half of the 15,840 respondents, about 49.9 per cent, who were absent from work attributed it to stay home instructions as guided by the government and employers.

Other reasons include temporary slack for technical or economic reasons at 16.6 per cent while temporary layoff or work reduction stood at 13.4 per cent.

“Persons who reported that they were absent from work due to stay away or lockdown were asked when they expected to return to work. Nine out of ten were not sure of when they would be returning to work.”

The survey also paints a dark picture of the country’s economic situation, showing that 21.5 per cent of Kenyans were unable to pay rent last month while 24.6 per cent of students were unable to access home learning.

Of those unable to pay rent, 30.5 per cent failed to do so because of reduced income.

Other reasons documented for inability to pay rent were temporary loss of job at 22.4 per cent, unemployed at 13.9 per cent while delay in income stood at 9.1 per cent.

“Overall, 30.5 per cent of households were unable to pay rent on the agreed date with the landlord. About 21.5 per cent who usually pay rent on agreed date with the landlord were unable to pay rent for the month of April 2020 on time.

Approximately 59.8 per cent of those who usually pay rent on agreed dates were able to pay rent for the month of April on time,”  indicated the report released by National Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani.

On home schooling, the report shows that the highest proportion (48.2 per cent) of households used home schooling as a coping mechanism to continue learning in the time of Covid-19.

So bad is the situation that the education sector recorded the highest variance of 40 hours between usual and actual hours worked in a week compared to other sectors such as accommodation and food services, which had a variance of 30 hours.

“Notably, 24.6 per cent of households with members who usually attend any learning institution were not using any method to continue learning at home,” says the report.

Cessation of movement

Speaking while launching the report, Yatani said the Covid-19 pandemic has had an adverse socio-economic impact on households.  

“In Kenya, the government has introduced a raft of measures including the banning of all passenger flights, temporary closure of bars, suspension of learning in all education institutions, dusk to dawn curfew, cessation of movement in and out of some high-risk areas,” he said.

The report says the uncertainty reported in various sectors of the economy has seen introduction of coping measures for businesses to remain afloat.

“Enterprises have had to delay investments, purchases of goods and hiring of workers, while others have resorted to salary cuts for their employees, temporary layoffs and some resorted to total closure.

This continues to have knock-on effects on incomes, particularly for informal and casual workers,” indicates the report.

Similarly, the report shows that almost half (49 per cent) of the working population is running own businesses while 31.7 per cent were paid employees.

“On average, workers across all industries reported having worked fewer hours in reference period as compared with usual hours worked per week,” reads the report.

 On health, one in every five households in Kenya reported to having members with pre-existing medical conditions which made them more vulnerable to coronavirus than those without.

Majority of households that reported having a member with a pre-existing medical condition cited hypertension at 34 per cent, diabetes at 19 per cent and asthma at 16.7 per cent.

At least 12.4 per cent of households reported that a member of a household sought health services over the period under review.

Among these, at least a third (30.5 per cent) said they visited government hospitals, 24.5 per cent cited private hospitals while 17.9 per cent went to government dispensaries.

Respondents were also asked to state the economic activity they were engaged in seven days preceding the survey, industry they worked in and number of hours.

Participation rate of population aged 18 years and above was 56.8 per cent, with males accounting for 65.3 per cent of those in labour force.

Females accounted for slightly more than half, 51.2 per cent of those outside labour force during the reference period.

Almost all, 99.4 per cent, persons aged 18 years and above have heard about coronavirus pandemic.

Majority of those who had heard about the disease said they acquired information through radio and television at 82 per cent and 63.3 per cent, respectively.

At least 97.2 per cent of households cited soap and water for hand-washing as the main method one can use for protection against coronavirus.

For the transport sector, respondents said there was a 51.7 per cent increase in cost of transport on most frequent routes.

Migori recorded the highest increase in amount of cost paid with 77.2 per cent while Turkana recorded the least with 24.4 per cent.

About 32.2 per cent of persons who used any means of transport said they walked, 25.5 per cent used Public Service Vehicles and 18.9 per cent, motorbikes.

The 15,840 people were interviewed with the response rate standing at 97 per cent.

Data collection was undertaken between May 2 and 9, implemented using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) approach where interviews are conducted through telephone and responses captured in tablets and transmitted to a central server for data processing.

The second wave of data collection across the country is expected to begin on May 21 and run for 6 days.

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