Kenyans turn to casual labour amid COVID-19 pandemic

Have you noticed an increase in wash women around your neighbourhood or an extra hand of a porter offering to carry your goods after shopping?

That may be a former teacher, barber or welder or she might have been working in bars or the hotels sector.

Data from Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) shows that casual jobs jumped to 20 per cent from negligible during the COVID-19 pandemic as a major source for household incomes especially cleaning, domestic work and babysitting.

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Farming which made up 32 per cent of household incomes at the beginning of April also became a major economic activity as Kenyans retreated to their rural homes to wait out the pandemic.

By mid-May, Farming activity constituted 45 per cent of household incomes.

Jobs that all but disappeared were service jobs like barbers, braiding and welding as well as security jobs as business establishments were shut down.

Transport which made up 17 per cent of incomes sharply fell to 2.8 per cent following lock down measures and restrictions of movement in and out of the major city counties of Nairobi and Mombasa as well as Mandera.

Education jobs, especially private sector, slumped from 10 per cent to 1.4 per cent as schools remained closed and only government workers received their pay.

Education especially carries an attendant of economic activities including feeding school children, textile for uniforms, transport, and electricity.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics yesterday made an unprecedented step not to release Gross Domestic Product figures blaming it on insufficient data which would offer a clearer picture of the economy under COVID-19

FSD data points however draw a depressing picture of the economic hit that Kenyans took as a tradeoff to ward off the pandemic.

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