Unemployment is much lower in the region (8.0%) than the national average (10.4%). Two districts, Mfantsiman (14.8%) and Cape Coast (11.3%), have values exceeding the national average. Unemployment affects females (8.2%) more than males (7.8%) in almost all the districts.
The phenomenon of working children is also a problem in a number of districts where about 5 per cent of children under age 15 years are engaged in economic activities.
Occupation And Industry
The predominant industry in all districts except Cape Coast is agriculture (52.3%), followed by manufacturing (10.5%). Agriculture (including fishing) is the main occupation and employs more than two thirds of the work force in many districts. Cocoa production is concentrated in Assin, Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira and Upper Denkyira while oil palm production is mainly in Assin and Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira. Other major agricultural enterprises are pineapple and grain production. Fishing is concentrated mainly in the six coastal districts.
Agriculture remains the main occupation for both males and females in all the districts except Cape Coast. More males (8.6%) than females (4.6%) are engaged in professional/technical occupations while more females (18.2%) than males (6.0%) are involved in sales work. It is important to note that in all the districts, except Cape Coast, less than 10 per cent active population are engaged in service activities.
A significant proportion of the working population is self-employed without employees. Employees account for 12.6 per cent of the region’s working population, but in the District of Cape Coast the proportion is much higher, 33.1 per cent. The self-employed with employees and apprentices constitute 5.1 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively.
Institutional Sector of Employment
Over 80 per cent of the working population in all the districts work in the private informal sector. Between 6 and 20 per cent of the working population in all districts are engaged in the public and semi-public/parastatal sectors.
Type of Activity
92.0 per cent of the economically active are employed while 8 per cent are unemployed. The proportion employed ranges from a low of 85.2 per cent in Mfantsiman to a high of 96.1 per cent in Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa. The districts with unemployment rates exceeding the national average of 10.4 per cent are Mfantsiman (14.8%) and Cape Coast (11.3%). Three other districts: Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (10.3%), Gomoa (8.8%) and Awutu-Efutu- Senya (8.3%) also have rates greater than the regional average of eight per cent. Asikuma- Odoben-Brakwa registered the least unemployment rate of 3.9 per cent. Another observation is that, unemployment affects females more than males in all the districts except Agona, Gomoa and Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira.
Among the not economically active, students form the majority in all districts with Cape Coast, Assin, Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira and Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa having over 50 per cent. The picture is different where the sexes are concerned. The proportion of female students is less than 40 per cent in most districts. The male students constitute over 50 per cent in all districts except Gomoa where the proportion of male students is 49.8 per cent of the not economically active.
Homemakers are the second most important category of the inactive population in all the districts except Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa and Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam where old age is next to students.
The age composition of the employed and unemployed shows that children between 7-14 years constitute 3 to 5 per cent of the working population in all the districts (except in Cape Coast, where it is less than 2 percent). Moreover, about 45 per cent of workers in all the districts fall within the 25-44 years age group and that close to a fifth of the working population are between 15-24 years. 51 There are also among the children some who are actively seeking work. Between 8.9 and 17.9 per cent of the unemployed persons in the districts are children. In addition, the level of unemployment among the 25-44 year group is higher than the 15-24 age group in Komenda- Edina-Eguafo-Abirem, Cape Coast, Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese, Mfantsiman, Gomoa and Upper Denkyira. In the remaining six districts unemployment affects the youth (15-24 years) more than the adult population of 25-44 years.
Agriculture and related work (this includes animal husbandry, forestry, fishing and hunting) is the predominant occupation in all the districts. Except in Cape Coast (14.9%), Awutu- Efutu-Senya (44.3%), Agona (47.7%) and Mfantsiman (49.4%), over 50 per cent of the economically active population are engaged in agriculture. Production/transport equipment operators constitute the second major occupation in all the districts (except Mfantsiman) and this is followed by sales workers.
Sales workers are predominantly found in Cape Coast (22.9%), Mfantsiman (17.2%), Awutu- Efutu-Senya (16.2%) and Agona (16.2%). Cape Coast also has significant proportions of its labour force in professional and technical workers (12.4%), administrative and managerial workers (0.9%) and clerical and related workers (8.7%).
This is hardly surprising as Cape Coast as the regional capital has more job openings in these categories. Agriculture remains the main occupation for both males and females in all the districts, except Cape Coast. Excluding agriculture, the proportion of females engaged in sales outstrips all other occupation in all the other districts. In the case of males, production/transport comes next to agriculture.
The main industrial activities in the region are agriculture (52.3%), manufacturing (10.5%), wholesale/retail trade (11.8%) and fishing (5.9%) employing 80.5 per cent of the working population between them. Except Cape Coast where only 10.7 per cent of the working population is in the agricultural sector, between 37 and 70 per cent of the working population are employed in the agricultural sector in all districts. Specifically the agricultural sector is predominant in five districts where between 65 and 71 per cent of the working population are employed. These districts are Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa (70.4%), Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam (67.3%), Assin (71.4%), Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira (70.2%) and Upper Denkyira (65.3%).
The fishing industry is very prominent in the coastal districts of Mfantsiman (15.3%), Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (12.7%), Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese (10.9%), Awutu- Efutu-Senya (10.5%) and Gomoa (8.5%).
The wholesale and retail trade also employ a significant proportion of the economically active (11.8 percent). Significant proportions of employed in the sector are in Cape Coast (21.8%), Awutu-Efutu-Senya (16.0%), Mfantsiman (15.8%) and Agona (15.4%). The manufacturing sector is also important in Cape Coast (17.4%), Agona (13.8%), Awutu-Efutu- Senya (13.6%), Mfantsiman (12.1%) and Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (10.2%). As expected, Cape Coast as the education capital has a relatively high proportion, 9.8 percent, engaged in the education sector.
Nearly three-quarters of the working population in almost all the districts are self-employed with no employees. Employees account for 12.6 per cent at the regional level. In Cape Coast, where most of the government institutions are sited, however, the proportion of employees is 33.1 per cent. Apart from Cape Coast, significant proportions of employees are also found in 6 other districts where the range is from 11.2 per cent in Agona to a high of 16.9 per cent in Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem.
The other five districts have proportions about 10 per cent or less. The self-employed with employees category is a significant group in the region with 5.1 per cent. Among the districts, the proportions range from 3.6 per cent in Upper Denkyira to 7.4 per cent in Cape Coast. Apprenticeship is also important in Cape Coast (6.9%) and Agona (4.5%).
The proportion of male employees is about three times that of females in all the districts. As usual the exception to the rule is Cape Coast, where employees form about 46 per cent of the male working population compared to 21.1 per cent for females. Additionally, the proportion of males in apprenticeship is greater than that of females in all the districts while domestic employment is insignificant in all the districts for both sexes.
Institutional Sector of Employment
Almost 80 per cent of the working population in all the districts except Cape Coast (63.0%) work in the private informal sector. The private formal sector is next in importance as an employer, accounting for between 7 per cent in Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa and 16.8 per cent in Cape Coast. In addition, nine other districts also have proportions of above 10 per cent as employees in the private formal sector. The data further show that in Cape Coast the public sector also employs a significant proportion, 16.5 per cent of employed persons.
At a time when the private sector has been declared the engine of growth, an economy with a large proportion of the private informal sector is clearly an impediment to achieving an accelerated economic growth and development. This is because it is very difficult if not impossible to tax the self-employed (with or without employees) who are mostly in the private informal sector.
It follows therefore that with such a low tax revenue base, the districts in the Central Region may not receive substantial revenue from the District Assembly Common Fund which is tied among other factors, to the internally generated funds of the districts.