29 August 2023

Rwanda's Unemployment Rate Declines, Yet Gender and Age Disparities Persist


Rwanda has seen a promising decline in its unemployment rate, with the latest figures revealing a drop to 16.8 percent, compared to 23.5 percent in May 2022 and 17.3 percent in February 2023. This reduction is a testament to the nation's continued efforts to stimulate economic growth and job creation. However, beneath this overall improvement, significant gender and age disparities persist, demanding attention and targeted strategies to address them effectively.

Unemployment Disparities by Gender

Female Unemployment: Despite the overall decline, the unemployment rate remains relatively higher among females at 20.1 percent. Gender disparities in unemployment rates have long been a challenge in many societies, often tied to factors such as limited access to education and vocational training, as well as cultural biases and traditional gender roles. It is essential to focus on empowering women economically to bridge this gap.

Male Unemployment: In contrast, male unemployment stands at 13.9 percent. While this figure is lower than that of females, it still represents a significant portion of the male workforce experiencing joblessness. This might be influenced by factors like underemployment and the need for strategies to ensure that males are not trapped in low-paying or unstable jobs.

Geographic Differences in Unemployment

Rural vs. Urban Areas: Rwanda's unemployment rate varies between rural and urban areas, with rural areas reporting a slightly higher rate at 17.1 percent compared to 16.3 percent in urban areas. This difference can be attributed to variations in economic opportunities, with urban areas generally offering more diverse employment prospects. To mitigate this, targeted development initiatives should be implemented in rural regions.

Age-Related Unemployment Disparities

Youth Unemployment: A significant disparity emerges when examining unemployment by age group. The youth population, aged 16 to 30 years, faces a substantially higher unemployment rate of 21.5 percent, signifying a critical challenge in harnessing the potential of Rwanda's young workforce. Factors like limited experience, skills mismatch, and a competitive job market contribute to this issue.

Adult Unemployment: In contrast, adults experience a lower unemployment rate of 13.7 percent, reflecting the benefit of experience and a more established presence in the job market. Encouraging workforce entry and career development among the youth is crucial to reducing this age-related disparity.

While Rwanda's declining overall unemployment rate is a positive sign of economic progress, the disparities based on gender, geography, and age remain concerning. An approach that includes education, entrepreneurship, and targeted development initiatives is necessary to bridge these gaps and ensure a more equitable and prosperous future for all Rwandans. By addressing these disparities, Rwanda can harness the full potential of its workforce and continue its journey toward sustained economic growth and development.


By: Marc Mukundabantu