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Economy, Labor

informal employment, subsistence farming, COTU, metalworkers, wage labor

In 2000 Kenya had a labor force of 15.5 million people. Farming occupies 19 percent of the workers, most of whom earn their living by subsistence farming. According to government statistics, the number of people involved in wage labor totaled about 3 million in 1993. About half of these laborers earned their living in what is called the jua kali sector—that is, through informal employment as mechanics, metalworkers, or in some other small-scale skilled craft. Of those in wage employment, 77 percent were male, 53 percent were employed in the private sector, and agriculture was the largest employer. Manufacturing was the second largest employer, accounting for 19.5 percent of wage-earning employees in the private sector in 1993. In the public sector, about 38 percent were employed by the central government and about 31 percent were employed as teachers. Since 1990 the government has taken measures to reduce the number of people employed by the public sector. Kenya’s urban unemployment rate is estimated to be about 35 percent. Trade unions represent a substantial proportion of private sector employees. All unions were brought under state control in 1965 with the creation of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU).

Article key phrases:

informal employment, subsistence farming, COTU, metalworkers, wage labor, state control, government statistics, largest employer, central government, laborers, labor force, public sector, teachers, mechanics, creation, agriculture, accounting, half, living, number of people, measures, Manufacturing


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