It has come to that time of our lives when you might hear that dreaded “we have to let you go" speech from your boss and you suddenly realize that you have to start searching for a new job.
Like it or not, this is where most people working for small to medium companies and individual-owned businesses find themselves, thanks to a new year's resolution conjured by Mother Nature called COVID-19.
It's good to be prepared for the worst and therefore, as part of our weekly Information Series, we have gathered statistics from other countries that are approaching the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on unemployment. Using this information, we can project where Kenya will be in the coming months with a total lockdown or economic shutdown seemingly inevitable.
10 million out of work in 2 weeks in the largest economy with more expected in the coming weeks!
At the start of this year, the United States of America had undergone a 10 year recovery period from the great recession in 2008 that saw a 10% unemployment rate brought down to 3.6% by 2019. This year the unemployment rate has shot up to 13% sadly all thanks to Coronavirus.
In March alone, figures coming from U.S.A show that around 701,000 Americans found themselves out of work while at the same time, 10 million applied for unemployment benefits, most of them applying for the first time. Analysts at the Federal Reserve on Economic Data project a 32% unemployment rate and around 47 million jobless people in the U.S.A by the time this crisis is contained.
The Spaniards are finding it very rough
Spain has recorded 898,822 people to have lost their jobs since the start of the lockdown in mid-March according to the Spanish Ministry of Health. This includes about 550,000 temporary workers. Staggering numbers right?
These numbers have contributed to the rise of the official unemployment figure to the highest level since April 2017 standing at 3.5 Million with the Tourism and Construction sectors being the hardest hit.
4 Million French Citizens are in Partial Unemployment
This is according to the French Minister of Labor Muriel Penicaud's announcement on Thursday that translates to 1 in 5 of the population. They are lucky because, under the Partial Unemployment Scheme, employers pay their employees on temporary leave most of their salary then the state will reimburse the employers.
Projected Unemployment in Kenya if the Virus Ravages the Country to the Peak Situation
COVID-19 has proved to be very hard to contain and also very hard to predict therefore making it very difficult to come up with scientific projections to answer questions like how, when, where, etc. With this unpredictability, most developed nations have been caught off guard.
The fact that Kenyans contracted the virus late allows our government to analyze the trends and see how best to rescue businesses, small and medium companies and stimulate the economy back to its feet.
To establish where Kenya will be when we reach the peak of the virus, we will take an example of Spain. We see Spain losing a total of 898,822 out of 46 million to unemployment in one month caused by the lockdown.
Compare this to Kenya's population of 49 million and going by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics which states that we have around 11,863,485 aged between 20 to 34 years. This is the group that is at the highest risk of losing jobs due to a prolonged lockdown for entry-level jobs, small and medium-sized companies.
Some of the hardest-hit sectors include aviation. Here, we saw the government banning all flights coming in and out of the country in March forcing Kenya Airways to send staff on unpaid leave while the management and CEO got a 75% and 80% pay cut respectively until the pandemic is under control and the company resumes profitability.
With flights shut down and buyers from abroad now focused on buying essentials like food instead of buying flowers, the flower industry is a notable casualty. The sector employs thousands in the various flower farms and indirectly through traders.
Another notable sector is the “mitumba” sector where the Kenya Bureau of Standards banned the importation of second-hand clothes on March 31st. The sector employs thousands of Kenyans directly and indirectly, most of whom, earn from daily sales profits. This means if the pandemic situation drags for long, many will go hungry.
The tourism sector has been badly hit with the freeze on international travel by most countries leaving investors with massive losses and thousands of employees in the sector jobless. The Easter period is usually a peak period for players in this sector and unfortunately this year they’ll count more losses than profits.
Since Coronavirus is spread through surfaces, we will see a total shutdown of the hawking sector which will affect most sectors dealing in goods of all kinds from food to hardware. With the cessation of movement in and out of the Nairobi metropolitan area, hawkers plying their trade along the highways, people who depend on transit customers from Nairobi and Mombasa for survival will have to shut down.
Another sector that is in the balance is the food sector; where the government ordered that they should only sell “to go” or “take away”. This in effect has rendered many jobs redundant, for example, waiters and food vendors since most restaurants in Kenya are by default designed for sitting customers.
All we hope for is that we can contain the crisis and avoid getting to the situation seen in Europe.
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