In 2001, the labor force numbered an estimated 10 million. Agriculture accounted for up to 80% of the workforce in this impoverished country. The unemployment rate is estimated between 25–50%, which does not account for the majority of those who work for less than subsistence amounts.
The trade union movement is strong in Kenya and continues to pressure the government for better wages and improved living standards. However, union activity can result in dismissal or discrimination for employees. Complex rules severely limit the right to strike. The principal labor federation is the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU). Except for the 150,000– 200,000 teachers believed to be members of Kenya National Union of Teachers and three other smaller unions, all unions are affiliated with the COTU. COTU, however, does little to pursue workers' rights. There were some 41 unions in Kenya with approximately 600,000 workers in 2001, or about 33% of the country's industrialized workforce.
The minimum legal working age is 16, however this does not apply to the agricultural segment which accounts for 80% of the labor force. The number of child laborers was estimated at five million in 2002. The minimum wage ranged between $25 and $42 per month in 2002, depending on location, age, and skill level.