Unemployment rate in Rwanda drops by 4.3%

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 21 May 2024 at 11:25

The unemployment rate in Rwanda decreased by 4.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2024, reaching 12.9 per cent compared to the same period in 2023, a recent Labour Force survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) has revealed.

In the survey results announced on Monday, May 20, 2024, NISR said the significant decline brought back the unemployment rate to the pre-COVID-19 estimate of 13.1 per cent.

The latest trend shows that in the first quarter of 2024, one person was unemployed for every eight people in the labour force.

The report further indicates that gender disparities persist in unemployment, with females experiencing a higher rate at 14.5 per cent compared to males at 11.5 per cent.

Furthermore, youth face a notably higher unemployment rate of 16.6 per cent compared to adults at 10.3 per cent.

NISR also highlighted that urban areas continue to bear a heavier burden with an unemployment rate of 14 per cent compared to rural areas where the unemployment rate stands at 12.3 per cent.

“Despite these challenges, there is progress in narrowing the gender gap in unemployment, which was recorded at 3 percentage points in 2024(Q1), showing improvement from 3.7 percentage points in the same quarter last year,” NISR said.

“This data underscores the need for targeted interventions to address unemployment disparities across demographics and regions, ensuring inclusive economic growth and opportunities for all Rwandans.”

The latest survey also sheds light on the composition of Rwanda’s workforce. Out of an estimated working-age population of 8.2 million (16 years and above), approximately 4.37 million are employed. Another, 648,000 individuals are currently unemployed, while 3.2 million are categorized as out of the labour force. This means Rwanda’s labour force, encompassing both employed and unemployed individuals, stands at around 5 million.

The labour force participation rate, representing the proportion of the working-age population actively engaged in the labour force, has continued to record a steady increase since 2021 Q1. By 2024 Q1, this rate reached 61.0 per cent, marking a 2.4 percentage point rise from the previous year’s estimate of 57.6 per cent.

Additionally, the gender disparity in labour force participation persists, with males consistently exhibiting higher participation rates than females. In February 2024(Q1), this gender gap stood at approximately 14.6 per cent, mirroring the situation observed in the same quarter of the previous year.


The Employment-to-Population Ratio (EPR) increased significantly from 47.7 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023 to 53.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2024.

Although the overall picture is positive, there are still disparities in who gets jobs. Men have a significantly higher EPR (60.9 per cent) compared to women (46.3 per cent) in 2024 Q1.

Similarly, younger people (16-30 years old) have a lower EPR (47.7 per cent) compared to adults (57.4 per cent), pointing at challenges for youth entering the workforce.