Revealed: Half of Employed Kenyans earn below Ksh. 30,000

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The dominant sectors in Kenya, Agriculture and Education have the highest underpaid employees with private sector recording 69% of those earning below Ksh. 30,000.


The Kenya Bureau of Statistics is set to release statistics which indicate nearly half of the employed workforce in Kenya earns below Ksh.30,000. The figure is said to have grown from 154,945 to 1,279,982.

This data echoes the sentiments of our users who we had asked how much they’d like to earn. Even though some of them seemed quite ambitious, the majority of them fall within this bracket. But would you prefer earning a penny or staying jobless? 

The data released by KEBS would shatter dreams of many especially those trying to enter the job market for the first time with a bright outlook on earning substantial incentives.
This data would probably be a reality check for fresh graduates entering the job market with a bright outlook expecting to earn substantial amounts from the onset considering these figures are before any deductions i.e. income tax. 
The dominant sectors in Kenya, Agriculture and Education have the highest underpaid employees with private sector recording 69% of those earning below Ksh. 30,000. The formal sector has extensive benefits compared to the informal sector. But do you think the informal sector already or potentially has more income compared to the formal sector? Between the government and private sector which one would you prefer working for?
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    ALEX | January 14, 2020 13:25

    Am an accountant (CPAK) with over 4 years working experience and I work in a private company (Tranportation of goods company) where I earn a net salary of kshs 25,000 p.m. In the same company a commercial driver earns 35,000 p.m. This is deplorable because the qualification for a driver is just Driving Licence which requires just 1 month training whereas for accounting is 3 years plus. I request government to impose laws on private companies on how they should pay their employees depending on their qualifications. THERE MUST BE UNBIASED PAYSCALE!

    Jonam | December 16, 2019 10:00

    Between the government and private sector, I would choose the government. Its easier to get long term loans from Saccos and Banks when one working for the government. You can access better health cover with NHIF for employees working in the government unlike people in the private sectors, for example a civil servant would can be covered with hospitals like Gertrude's under NHIF even with lower pay while for the private sector it could be hard even on higher pay. Leave days, leave days compensations, Maternity leave, House allowances would always be better for guys in the government hence the allowances would really compensate for the lower pay as compared to the private sector. That's my point of view. Thanks & Regards!

    Samora | December 16, 2019 06:06

    If you need good perks, seek an NGO opportunity, work for a short while, save and invest massively

    Ojiambo | December 12, 2019 18:54

    in Uganda that would be a very good amount (1.1M) ugshs and majority of Ugandans earn less than 15kshs...for sure I would be eagerly waiting for such an opportunity to surface up.. thax

    TIMOTH | December 12, 2019 18:29

    Agriculture should be the biggest earner.. i still believe that a day is coming where education and Agriculture will be among the top earners. I may be getting above that but still with my experience and expertise i am below the scale compared to my peers in Japan, Sweden, Dutch, South Africa.. This is because education has been made very expensive in terms of big earning careers.

    Alvine | December 12, 2019 18:13

    Opportunities are many out there. Rely not on employment and being exploited. You can choose to do your own thing thing.

    Jimmy | December 12, 2019 17:47

    Am surprised that it is 50%, I thought it's 75% of employed people earning less than 30,000.

    Selektor | December 12, 2019 12:48

    Under 30,000 is better than without

    PATRICK | December 12, 2019 10:33

    Its very true that they are paying less, but with the current situation in our country of high rate of unemployment we need to accept, juu huwezi start bizna ka huna capital xo inabdi kuhustle kwa muhindi kwanza ukisave, only gava ndio inaweza tusave tu sisi ka vijana

    Felix | December 12, 2019 09:58

    this is the life in kenya,but one day life will come to change

    Muhindo | December 12, 2019 09:34

    I'm not a kenayan, but if their income can sort their expenditures, save some thing that's fine And if a majority are employed means a good population can sustain its well being other than getting a few population over earning which advocates for a poor being poorer and a rich becoming more richer. Thank you


    Benson | December 12, 2019 14:04

    The cost of living is high and majority of the population is unemployed, the youth leading.

    MOGERE | December 12, 2019 09:14

    we are gradually adopting to living the hard way. we live from hand to mouth. if only the other options like businesses were favourable we could opt to them. ..worse kila mahali ni kufurugwa tu na hii serikali yetu

    Mugyema | December 12, 2019 08:41

    one person should help me and convert for me that money into ugsh and we discuss more


    Alinoor | December 12, 2019 10:09

    30000x30=900,000 ugs

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    Abdi | December 12, 2019 14:13

    Around 1million Uganda shillings


    TIMOTH | December 12, 2019 18:18

    kes 30000 is equivalent to UGHS 1,000,000

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    Michael | December 12, 2019 20:10

    Hahaha. That is like 1.5 UGX


    Gilbert | December 13, 2019 04:56

    Less than 150000ugsh


    caroline | December 13, 2019 05:05


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    PAUL | December 13, 2019 11:49

    30,000 KES = 1,084,429.70 UGX

    Nyakaru | December 12, 2019 08:35

    My payment per month is 18k in tyskys supermarket. I don't know weather I will get a new job that I may earn 40k and above. 18k per month can't be enough to people with families but singles

    Engole | December 12, 2019 07:46

    Squeeze them to add atleast

    JOSPHAT | December 12, 2019 06:19

    The government should consider giving opportunities to youths especially graduates to enhance their skills and set 55 years working period in the policies. The aged need to retire to bring in fresh expertise.

    Sauroki | December 12, 2019 06:12

    this is true 30000 is even more for cartel in private sector they contract more from client and give you less.

    Philip | December 12, 2019 05:33

    I prefer working in government given that some private sector employers are arrogant, mistreating and taking advantage of poor state of employees and they don't want to care about. Paying peanuts and discriminating between employees in terms of tribalism and labour laws not observed.

    GRACE | December 12, 2019 05:17

    Most Kenyan youths are suffering yet the corrupt, gready, selfish government people are enjoying.This is the time I only pray that may Almighty God bring world to an end let's all go rest coz even if u open a business kanjos are everywhere u run Helter skelter all times,if employed VAT takes all your money as if they are the one performing job am tired and ashamed being called a Kenyan infact I hate my country.

    Charles Muriithi | December 12, 2019 05:06

    This is very true ,but I comment the biggest problem we have is our government institutions like labour office they are too corrupt that they cannot even help the workers. Just resently where now I work they wrote a letter that they will come to see the nature of work but before the day come our employer sent some guy with an envelope so they just sent papers signed with stamps and nobody came.Even if you go to their office no help you can get because all are money hungers. I haven't seen where contracts are written job is from seven am and no closing time then you are told without overtime so these private sectors are missing workers for no where we can get help.

    Meshack | December 10, 2019 08:01


    Mary | December 09, 2019 14:09

    The 30,000 is way better than staying jobless


    Gideon | December 12, 2019 02:31

    Mary, I understand when you say 300usd is better that nothing. But remember did you do 4 years with dreams at a university to end up with 30000 taxed salary. After tax and other deduction you end up with 20000, and you working in Nairobi or Mombasa or kisumu, how much do you think you are going to save and the same time for your up keep. At the end you will realise you might us well be jobless because you will be exposing yourself to work torture. Working late, with no overtime allowance, no bonuses, while the salary stays the same. Imagine that environment.


    Michael | December 12, 2019 05:23

    I concur


    Ole-Israel | December 12, 2019 08:12

    It's ok but it hurts when what you can only do is pay your bills and transport to work then live on borrowing

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    Michael | December 12, 2019 20:11


    Patrick | December 09, 2019 00:19

    It's true no employment that is the reason why most people accept offer of below 30,000.

    CHARLES | December 07, 2019 14:33

    Even though have lived once,am fully convinced that this is the worst time to live.


    Gideon | December 12, 2019 02:33

    So true Charles. Fruits of education are no longer valued. We study to put a country on the map as the most literate country.


    CEDRICK | December 13, 2019 09:45

    Very true

    Saitakwet | December 07, 2019 06:50

    it's true

    Peris | December 07, 2019 06:37

    In order to balance the equation of jobless youth...government should eliminate those aged people and give youth job..


    Gideon | December 12, 2019 02:37

    Peris let me inform you now, I went to a certain sub county agricultural Office, the aged officers have retired and the government is not willing to employ any replacement rather they get one employee and add the vacant departments to the ones they already instead of seeking fresh minds. So you find one employee managing over two departments.

    Rodgers | December 06, 2019 13:26

    Graduates usually leave varsities with theoretical knowledge which is less relevant when it comes to job placement.


    SAMUEL | December 10, 2019 12:09

    While there is some truth to your statement, that truth is not the reason for such low pays. A draining economy is. If skill set mismatch was the problem, we would have numerous well paying positions with no people to fill them. On the contrary, we have inadequate underpaying positions with numerous skilled people struggling to get them.

    Ann | December 06, 2019 07:48

    Naked truth

    EKUTAN | December 06, 2019 07:06

    Painful truth. The government is to blame! i wish i could be a citizen of a different country.


    Jackton | December 12, 2019 04:27

    Don't try my brother! It's worse out there. European work very hard for what they've got. We think there are easy opportunities there, no. Let's endeavor to creat our own jobs using the little skills we have and stop blaming the government. One day they will come looking for us and then, only we shall demand a reasonable pay and they will have no choice but to give In!

    Joseph | December 05, 2019 17:45

    The best thing nowadays is to try doing any regal business no matter which... don't stay and wait for employment coz chances of disappoint are very high

    HEDRICK PHILIP | December 05, 2019 16:31

    We don't have job opportunities in Kenya,corruption everywhere, tribalism of the highest order and nepotism being practice everywhere, I wonder living in a Country in which even unpaid attachment is difficult to get


    David | December 12, 2019 05:04

    Look at that. You must have connections to get a volunteer program

    FESTUS | December 05, 2019 16:29

    This is pathetic to Kenyans.standards of living is high then one wants to pay you this kind of money..but graduates are rushing even for as low as 20k due to huge number of unemployed,,another thing government should be aware of this private sectors misusing graduates in name of internships.. You work for a company in name of acquiring skills then only few companies who absorb us,,is unfortunate for us,,,..employers are misusing we the youth...we regret!!


    Brooke | December 07, 2019 15:10

    Really true.

    Christopher | December 05, 2019 16:28

    The survey clear shows the reality in the job market and as time goes , that 68 % will increase to 90 % because of more labour supply with demand with respect to absorption in the actual job market..

    Elijah | December 05, 2019 16:26

    To my side I can only blame cotu . since it is their mandates to force government sectors and private sectors to pay their employees a sustainable salary.but bear me witness not in this our greedy happiness is that one day one time God of poorer earthly way but richer in Christ,Muslim,iduisim will put Kenya in right place and correct leaders.

    Daniel | December 05, 2019 12:28

    Our Education System!!! Most of the skills taught are irrellevant in the current market. We end up with a huge number of unemployed force with no options but to take up any job that comes our way!


    Rachel | December 08, 2019 06:53

    You make a point. Our Education System is what is failing Kenyans the most. And the government is doing nothing to accompdate the big number of unemployed people,especially, the youth. How i wish i was born some 40 years ago, when things were different and the education system was not corrupt.

    Gideon | December 05, 2019 12:25

    This is a sad reality considering the number of potential employees joining the labor market every year and especially graduates.

    Denis | December 05, 2019 12:20

    Find a market gap, explore it pull resources and prioritize in satisfying the market needs inshort lets try to create employment for ourselves as youths lets not be paralyzed by minimum wages

    Frederick | December 05, 2019 11:38

    If we continue to take it that jobs are places where you go to spend 8-5 then that number will definitely rise. If you take a the mindset that a job is where you go to services and get compensated in return, in other words, solve issues, then that number will reduce. We also need to stop paying folks per month and do it per amount of work done so that if you solve bigger problems you are paid more and if you warm the seat, well...


    Philip | December 05, 2019 15:15

    That's true. Value addition

    Maryirene | December 05, 2019 11:03

    I think everyone should start thinking outside the box we have soo many online opportunities one of them being forex trading if you invested in learning the skill it pays handsomely and unemployment will be a thing of the past.


    Allan | December 05, 2019 12:47

    I am interested in this one, kindly assist with the basics.


    Kibet | December 05, 2019 18:52

    where can i get the relevant skill over the same

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    Chelangat | December 06, 2019 11:51

    Am interested in this, how is all about


    Joshua | December 07, 2019 17:04

    Hi Maryirene. Educate me on this. I am interested


    Jafar | December 09, 2019 05:31



    KINGS | December 10, 2019 12:26

    I agree with you it has really changed my fortune, I don't worry about employment now.


    Daniel | December 12, 2019 06:05

    tell me the secret

    Wafula | December 05, 2019 10:02

    If given a chance I would rather take a government job

    Kandagor | December 05, 2019 10:01

    shocking reality.....

    Gitonga | December 05, 2019 09:11

    It's not about having jobs. The quality of the jobs also matters. Seems like the worst times to live in Kenya.

    Michael | December 05, 2019 09:03

    I would consider working for government if given chance

    Clement | December 05, 2019 08:42

    The job market is saturated. However, if an employee can be able to add value to the company at whatever level he/she is in then, with a good employer, a change in particulars can definitely be considered.

    STEPHEN | December 05, 2019 08:37

    Employers should have respect for skills, time and investment put to acquire the skills. Reason why most of the companies are not prospering is because of lack of fairness towards their employees. Our God desires mercy and love. It my start with our immediate environment. Essence of work is make progress in life, improve yourself and not merely paying bills. Let young graduates stop Hawking skills and exercise patience in job search process.

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    Jack | December 05, 2019 09:19

    who checks what they pay! Case in point---the so called private schools!They are making billions!!!what do they pay the teachers-----peanuts!!!high school fees---high salaries--hell no---owners take the money from parents and laugh all the way to the bank!!!

    ERIC | December 05, 2019 08:35

    Your attitude determines your life. Someone can be looking for reasons things can’t be done or why things don’t work, blaming destiny, others. Or you can face the situation, take responsibility, look for ways to make things happen and get things done.

    EVANS | December 05, 2019 07:45

    It's either that or jobless corner, what choices do Kenyans have? The figures are not surprising at all.

    Boniface | December 05, 2019 07:44

    The standing daily wage and the salary remains worrying all day all night. To place our blame on its the the government since it has and it failed in playing it's role in coming up with policies and strategies to control the salary administration in both sectors.To my fellow graduates we better think of being self employed than waiting to get white color jobs of which we won't.

    josphat | December 05, 2019 07:31

    I really disagree with this notion of saying informal and formal cause when you say informal how we describe private sector as informal as matter of facts entrepreneur is not about informal sector which means we handle our business activities in unprofessional way thus killing our business sector

    Ruth | December 05, 2019 07:25

    its a sad truth, for my case have been searching for that job paying 25k and above..A graduate who earns less than 20k because the 20k must have some deductions na hapa helb inataka tuilipe...Kenya!

    Absalom | December 05, 2019 07:05

    Very much shocking!.I used to be an accountant 3 years ago earning less than 20k gross, then I took up a challenge to study medical course which I initially wanted to study but never got the opportunity.Right now I look back and doesn't regret of the decision I made.

    James | December 05, 2019 07:01

    This could be one smart if government can check on it

    KEVIN | December 05, 2019 06:59

    Is true, I used to work for gross of 20k and the working conditions very bad too. You are treated as a slave. You work even on Xmas day and Easter. I had to quit to avoid a lot of stress. The rate of unemployment in Kenya is too high making employers to take advantage to their own benefit

    Veronica | December 05, 2019 06:53

    Iam in between,I have been working in private sector for the last seven years earned less than 30,on contract basis,one negative thing is lack of job security,your contract can be terminated any time, which could not be so if in govt jobs

    GREGORY | December 05, 2019 06:49

    Thanks for sharing this, I would prefer to work for the government than working in a private sector but with the high levels of corruption in most of the government offices where job interviews are just a formality,chances remain so dismal, ..Hence one is left with every option to work for a private sector where working hours are too long compared to the low pay it has to offer. How beneficial it would be if the government sector would hire candidates purely based on competency .

    SeKa | December 05, 2019 06:49

    The fact that the number of those earning less than 30K rose from 154,945 to 1,279,982 is proof enough their is a lot of job created in the informal sector (though not enough to sustain the Job demand in the market)The big question should be what is necessitating the sudden shift and increase in numbers in the informal sector and the satisfaction it offers to earn that amount.TRUTH be told the public sector is rigid Saturated with a lot of Tribalism,Nepotism,Corruption,lack of transparency and every thing that is making getting a job in the public sector a challenge plus the over-exaggerated qualifications for such jobs which are meant to specifically cut off a specific group of people from such opportunities what will make me not to be satisfied with 30K with a guaranteed job opportunity at hand.Why should i gamble for a government job?


    OFUYO | December 05, 2019 10:02

    There was no job created...thet nymber grew because if redundancy and companies cutting costs reducing wages...lay offs and rehires at low costs...there has been no new jobs. Rotich used to manufacture such indices attributing any new kiosk opened as a job

    GEORGE | December 05, 2019 06:45

    wow..30,000 or less isnt enough but what can we do majority of us would take that in a heart bit rather than stay jobless

    simon Julius | December 05, 2019 06:42

    Your commentslove it

    Geofley | December 05, 2019 06:32

    Thanks so much for the analysis but with the private sector they have much opportunities to offer compared to the government sector but with less payment.So let the government consider the private sector cause they are the most Tax payers in our country kenya.

    JOSEPHAT | December 05, 2019 06:28

    Factors like on season and off season will make me choose the informal sector over the formal sector. It's Christmas period and obviously fare, clothes and kitchen wear are in high demand yet by February the prices will reduce. Compare this with some one who earns a constant salary of 30k, this person will be forced to spend more on the said festive season. I'd chose government job over private sector but at the same time id chose private hospital and private schools over the public resources

    Joshua | December 05, 2019 06:25

    In Kenya it's a matter of who you know. No single career is a guarantee of success. A good number of "mainstream career" graduates are tarmacking out there. Never mind that majority of our politicians are form four leavers, yet they earn millions. Professors and top brains in the country have to survive with about 300k. Talk of a displaced society? Kenya is a classic example. The government is broke, handicapped, and in debt. If you manage to have a three square meal a day, take your kids to school and pay your bills, you are very lucky. Citizens are forced to think outside the box to survive. Sadly this has led to high crime in society.


    MERCY | December 05, 2019 08:05

    Its not about "who you know" but about "who knows you" might know very great people in this country but if they don't know you that means nothing

    FRED | December 05, 2019 06:24

    Talking about under 30k when even with my papers am stuck under 20k.. I prefer working with government even though it's a dream

    Daniel | December 05, 2019 06:23


    SIMEON MITCHELL | December 05, 2019 06:11

    shocking truth

    Ngetich | December 05, 2019 06:01

    taking of 30000 what about a gross of less 10000 Gross with a CPA 4 and a degree

    GODSON | December 05, 2019 05:36

    This information is real. I am a graduate class of 2014. To date , only short contract jobs is what I get and payment if less than 30,000. This is not money in this type of economy.!!! The leaders we see them reaping and lovishly living...stretching and struggling is what has remained...we don't know when morning sun will shine coz we are still in darkness...but I trust one day, the world will be surprised because kenyan people will arise and take what belongs to them legally...especially the jobless learned is dangerous what the government has been doing. !! It's really dangerous!!


    STEPHEN | December 05, 2019 08:38

    Time is coming. We will shock them. We will change the system very soon.

    CALISTUS | December 05, 2019 05:21

    True story, sometimes one would wonder " Did i go to school to escort others get better paying jobs," Salary scale in Kenya need to be looked into it. The animal called contract is currently dominating government jobs and still paying poorly their staff. A contractual job need to earn someone good salary and gratuities by end of every contract even if there is still room for renewal. The bottom line remains "No employer will make you rich whether in private or government sector."

    RITA | December 05, 2019 05:19

    Thanks i wish if the government would put the payment limit for their industries and make inspections always about that to see which industry has violated its order. Most industries do advertise and put we need someone with experience of like 2 to 4 years, in fact there how do they expect also the graduates to get jobs and get experience . Another issue is that jobs of today its according to who knows you, this has led most of the clever graduates from humble families to be on streets cause you find they are the first in the family to get educated, so no one to hold on them in terms of jobs yet you may find someone of senior six working in office with nice position, anyway they say that work these days is according to how smart you are not how you are educated so i request also us graduates to be given chance to exploit our knowledge.

    Ongom | December 05, 2019 05:02

    Considering cost of living in Kenya,30,000 Ksh might be very small in Kenya but in Uganda,majority of working Ugandans whether in formal or informal sector get below 30,000 Ksh which is about 1000,000 UGX

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    Ariyo | December 05, 2019 13:10

    And what can 1m do in uganda surely???? just rent and food and its no more

    Stephen | December 05, 2019 04:40

    In Kenya, What you get is what you adhere to...It's a gradual yet painful process for those below 30k bracket.

    ANDREW | December 05, 2019 04:37

    Its time to awaken the real giant in our young children & siblings. We need to go beyond academics. Despite our culture that is not tailored to enhance self reliance. Tough economic times.

    Ongoro | December 05, 2019 04:35

    Factual article.

    Rachel | December 05, 2019 04:34

    You forgot the manufacturing industry where graduates have to be content with that amount and there are no growth prospects, and long working hours!

    GEORGE | December 05, 2019 03:11

    What people don't realise is that other industries also pay low but the statistics probably look at aggregate pay. Some of the industries paying the highest are because the top management earn the most with those on the lower rungs still earning less than 30k

    Paul | December 02, 2019 04:27

    Like it

    PAUL | December 01, 2019 05:00

    Thank you so much for the insight of what is really happening, i would prefer to work for the government but for you to get a job their you need to know someone and on top add some tokens of value leaving us with the option of looking for private sector which has minimal levels of corruption hence the salary of less than 30,000 sh. i would feel happy when the government could harmonize the salaries in that no particular course should be seen as inferior to the other, our leaders should not earn more than 300,000 including the president putting the mps to maybe 150,00 thanks.

    Douglas | November 30, 2019 17:58


    Gideon | November 30, 2019 05:29

    As much we would Think the private sector has more to offer, and definitely more work is done in private sector than government but with less pay. Partially I would blame the government for partially undermining departments like agriculture and Education. It is left for the few to decide just how much salary one should get. As much as it is the backbone of every country, so little is put into it. How do you expect agriculture department to improve when no policies have been put to even regulate/consider the newly graduated fellow who seeks employment. If you do research,you will realise that even parents will tell theirs children not to consider agriculture as a profession. Do you ask why? I am an example of one who was told to do Business Administration by my dad but I chose agriculture for the passion. But I have little regret because I am left behind in terms of success, by graduate mates from different departments make it while I struggle with my less than 250 dollars taxed salary per month. The question is asked, Is agriculture really the number one backbone of the country. Back to the main question, where would I prefer working private or government? Given an option, I wouldn't work for any until policies are put and implemented to run the departments fairly. But since I have no option, will work with any of the two then work my way up their to improve things.


    Nelson | December 05, 2019 11:31

    You are very right brother

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