Economy adds 848,100 new jobs as growth rises


From left: Economic Planning Secretary Timothy Gakuu, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Chairman Stephen Wainaina, Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, Economic Planning PS James Muhati and KNBS Managing Director Macdonald Obudho during the launch of the KNBS 2024 Economic Survey Report.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

The Kenyan economy added 848,100 new jobs last year as economic growth accelerated, but struggled to create quality formal jobs amid a surge in university graduates.

The new jobs increased from 816,600 in 2022, taking total employment to 19.99 million from 19.14 million previously.

Higher job creation emerged as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth accelerated to 5.6 percent in 2023 from 4.9 percent in the prior year supported largely by the recovery of the agriculture sector.

The majority of new jobs were created in the informal sector- revealing the continued struggle to create quality jobs amidst high university enrolment which stood at 579,200 students in 2023.

The informal sector, which accounts for more than three-quarters of all employment in the country accounted for the bulk of the new jobs with 720,900 openings created in the calendar year, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2024 Economic Survey.

The sector which is largely represented by micro, small and medium enterprises saw its total share of jobs rise past the 16 million mark at 16.68 million jobs compared to 15.96 million jobs in 2022.

Informal sector jobs now account for 83.4 percent of all jobs in the economy compared to 83.3 percent of jobs previously. A further 4,300 new jobs emerged last year from self-employment and unpaid family workers.

“Total employment excluding small-scale agriculture and pastoralist activities stood at 20 million in 2023 up from 19.1 million in 2022,” reads the 2024 Economic Survey.

In contrast, jobs created in the formal sector stood at 122,900 with 44.1 percent or 50,900 new roles emerging from the education sector.

Across 2023, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was on a hiring spree, supporting job creation in the sector with total jobs under the commission rising by 12 percent to 390,400 jobs from 348,600 jobs a year prior.

Accommodation and food services activities were the second largest creator of formal employment in the year with 21,100 new jobs, as the sector became a benefactor to rebounding international travel.

“The 27.8 percent increase in employment in accommodation and food services activities was primarily due to increased international arrivals and domestic tourism,” the report added.

Other sectors with notable job additions in the year were manufacturing (9,700 new jobs), public administration (9,000) and human health and social work activities (5,600).

Jobs created out of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply however slacked, falling by 200 roles.

The creation of jobs was unchanged in the real estate sector at 4,300 while the growth in jobs was negligible in the sectors of mining and quarrying, arts, entertainment, recreation and support services. The report does not provide a breakdown of jobs created in the informal sector.

The economy created more jobs last year than in 2022 when a fewer 816,600 jobs were added.