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Hon. Helen Ntoso
Hon. Francis Ganyaglo

About 72.4 per cent of the population 15 years and older in the region (693,791), are economically active, with more females (366,564) than males (331,188). The general activity rate of 73.1 per cent for males in the 2000 census does not differ much from the 1984 figure of 79.7 per cent. On the other hand, the general activity rate for females decreased by 15.9 per cent from 85.3 per cent in 1984 to 71.7 per cent in 2000. For all the districts, all three forms of activity rate (the crude, general and refined rates) show that the Krachi District has the highest participation rates ahead of the Nkwanta and Akatsi Districts.

Of the economically active population, 92.3 per cent are employed in various economic activities and 7.7 per cent unemployed. The rate of unemployment is highest in the Kpandu District, followed by the Jasikan and the Ho Districts. The rest of the districts have single digit unemployment rates ranging from 3.6 per cent for the Nkwanta, to 9.8 per cent for the Hohoe District. The rate of unemployment is higher among females than males in seven out of the 12 districts. Students constitute 37.4 per cent of the economically inactive population , varying from 31.1 per cent in Nkwanta to 47.5 per cent in North Tongu. Workers in Agriculture and related occupations are in the majority in all the districts. Males outnumber females in four occupational categories, namely, Professional/Technical and related work, Administrative/Managerial, Clerical and related workers and the category “Others”. Females outnumber males in the three occupational categories, Services, Sales and Production/Transport and Equipment operators and labourers.

The Agriculture/Hunting/ Forestry industry is the largest sector in the region and indeed in all the districts, except the Keta District, where Fishing is the main industry. Males predominate in the Construction; Transport/Storage and Communication sectors while females predominate in the Wholesale/Retail Trade and the Hotels/Restaurant industries. The information on the employment status reveals that majority of the people in the region are self-employed (i.e. both self-employed with employees and self-employed without employees). Every eight out of 10 working people, in all the districts, are self-employed. On the average, in the districts, about 14.0 per cent of males and 6.0 per cent of females are employees. In all, 697,752 people are employed in all the six sectors of the economy. This represents an increase of 27.0 per cent over the 1984 figures. The private informal sector engages eight out of every 10 working persons (82.9%) while the private sector as a whole (i.e. both the formal and informal sectors), employs nine out of every 10 working people in every district.

This chapter is devoted to the analysis of data on economic activities, undertaken in the region during the seven days preceding census night 2000, by persons aged seven years and older in the region. The main focus of the analysis is on the following five areas: type of activity, occupation, industry, employment status, and institutional sector . The information on industry (as in the case of occupation and employment status) was recorded for the employed and the unemployed, i.e., the economically active population. Information on employment status was recorded for all economically active persons, whether employed or unemployed.

Family workers, aged seven years or older, who helped family members in their economic activities and full-time students in educational institutions, were excluded. Students that worked temporarily during holidays, within the seven days, were also excluded because they are considered not economically active. Although data were collected from the population aged seven years and older, only those in the economically active age groups 15 years and older, feature in the analysis most of the time. Where necessary information on those aged 7-14 years is used to underscore issues of working children.

Type Of Activity Of Economically Active Population
The percentage of employed females (92.3%) and the percentage of unemployed females (7.7%) are almost the same as those males (92.8% employed and 7.2% unemployed). In each district throughout the region, the proportion of employed males is almost the same as that of females. The proportion employed is highest, for both males (ranging from 94.8 to 97.0%), and females (ranging from 94.9 to 96.2%), in the three north-most districts of the region and lowest, for both males (89.3%) and females (88.5%), in the Kpandu district. Conversely, both male and female employment are lowest in the three north-most districts, Kadjebi, Nkwanta and Krachi.

The general activity rate (the labour force as a percentage of the population aged 15 years and older) in the region is 72.4 per cent with a slightly higher participation rate for males (73.1%) than females (71.7%). This is in contrast to the 1984 figures. The general activity rate for females in 1984 was higher (85.3%) than that of males (79.7%). For Krachi, Nkwanta, Kadjebi and Jasikan the general activity rates are higher than the regional average. The refined activity rate (labour force as a percentage of the population in the working ages of 15-64 years) is 81.5 per cent; the rate for males (81.4%) is almost the same for females (81.6%). Generally, the refined activity rates in the districts show a higher proportion of female participation than male participation.

Information on occupation relates to the work a person actually did during the seven days preceding Census Night, and not what the person is trained to do. In the case of the employed category, those who did not work during the reference period did not have their regular occupations recorded. Those who had work but did not work during the reference period (sick persons or persons on holiday) were classified as employed; for the unemployed, the information relates to the last kind of work the person did before he/she became unemployed. However, those unemployed who have never worked, for example students or vocational trainees who have just finished school or completed their period of training but are actively looking for a job, are classified under the category “Others”.

The 697,752 economically active persons, 15 years and older, in the region are employed in seven major occupational groups. Workers in the Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Fishing and Hunting sectors constitute the largest occupational groups in all the districts. Six out of the 12 districts have lower proportions (59.7%) than the regional percentage of the economically active population engaged in this sectors. Four districts have values between 62.0 and 70.5 per cent and two districts, Nkwanta and Krachi, have 81.5 and 81.1 per cent respectively. Sales workers also constitute a significant proportion, 12.8 per cent, of the work force. This proportion ranges from 4.9 per cent in Nkwanta to a high of 24.7 per cent in Ketu. Four districts, North Tongu (8.4%), Jasikan (8.7%), Krachi (5.4%) and Nkwanta (4.9%) have values below 10 per cent. In contrast Ketu and Keta have values above 20 per cent each. The six other districts have proportions ranging from 10.1 to 14.4 per cent. There are also significant proportions of population engaged in the Professional/Technical, occupations varying from 53.8 per cent in the Krachi District to 9.4 per cent in the Hohoe District.

The variation is wider in the proportion of those in Production, Transport Equipment and related workers, 5.9 per cent in the Krachi District compared with 23.2 per cent in South Tongu. The commercial rice production in South Tongu may account for the relatively high proportion of Production workers in this district. The Administrative and Managerial groups of workers are the least in all the districts, with less than 0.4 per cent each. The information on occupation by sex indicates that men predominate appreciably in four of the occupational categories namely; Agriculture/Animal husbandry/Fishing and Hunting, Professional/Technical and related workers Administrative and Managerial, Clerical and related workers and the category “Others” in all the districts. On the other hand, the proportion of women in the Service occupations is higher than that of men, and much more so, among Sales workers.

A significant proportion (15.2%) of the economically active are employed in wholesale and retail trade. Apart from Krachi, Nkwanta, Jasikan, North Tongu and Akatsi that have low levels, all other districts have more than 10 per cent employed in this sector. In fact, in Ketu and Keta about 25 and 20 per cent, respectively, are employed in wholesale and retail trade. Manufacturing is also important in the industrial sector of the region. 10.9 per cent are engaged in manufacturing at the regional level. However, South Tongu (19.2%), Keta (14.2%) and Ketu (13.9%) have relatively higher proportions.

The sex distribution of the population in the various industries presents an interesting pattern. In six of the 17 industries, the proportion engaged is about the same for both males and females. The male population, however, is higher in seven of the industries compared with four by females. There is a wide disparity in the proportion of men and women engaged in nine industries, namely Fishing, Construction, Wholesale and Retail Trade, Hotels and Restaurants. The rest are Transport and Communication, Manufacturing, Education, Community, Social and Personnel Services and Public Administration and Defense. The percentage of the females is higher than that of males in the Wholesale and Retail Trade while that of the males is much higher in the Fishing industry.

Employment Status
It can be observed that in all the districts, over two-thirds of the economically active population are self-employed without employees. The Ho District (72.6%), with the smallest proportion of the self-employed without employees, is far below the regional average of 78.0 per cent while the Akatsi District has the highest proportion of 84.3 per cent. Such a high proportion of the self-employed without employees poses 55 economic and social problems since it makes tax mobilization difficult, social security of workers not assured and allows little room for reinvestment because of low turnover.

On the other hand, the proportion of the self-employed with employees is less than 5.0 per cent in all the districts except Krachi (5.1%). Together, the two self-employed categories account for 81.5 per cent of the working population. A sizeable proportion (3.6%-15.9%) of the economically active population is recorded as employees in the districts. For example, in six districts, the proportion recorded as employees (10.6%-15.9%) is higher than the regional figure (10.0%).

The sex distribution shows that a higher percentage of females, than males, in 10 of the 12 districts work on their own without assistance although a higher percentage of males than females work on their own with some assistance. In the Nkwanta District, however, the percentage of self-employed males without employee (79.5%) is higher than that of females (74.7%). This is the lowest for females in the region except, the Krachi District (73.4%), which is almost the same as that for males (73.2%) in that District. About 14.2 per cent of the males are employees compared with 6.2 per cent of the females. The sex distribution and the size of various employment categories, by district, follow closely that of the region.

Institutional Sector Of Employment
In all, 697,752 persons, aged 15 years and older, are employed in both the formal and the informal sectors. The distribution shows that between 74.4 per cent of the working population in the Ho and Kpandu District and 90.5 per cent in Nkwanta and 90.7 per cent in the Krachi, Districts are employed in the private informal sector. The private formal and informal sectors have the largest concentration (93.8%) of the working population in all the districts in the region.

The public sector also employs 6.1 per cent of the working population in the region. For example, in Ho, one out of 10 working people (10.5%) is in the public sector; in the remaining districts, the proportions vary from 3.3 per cent in the Krachi District to 9.3 per cent in the Kpandu District. Information on the institutional sector also reveals that between 9.1 per cent (Nkwanta and Krachi) and 24.6 per cent (Ho) of the working population are in the formal sector (Public and Private) in the districts; however, only five districts, North Tongu (17.0%), Ho (24.6%), Kpandu (22.0%), Hohoe (21.7%) and Jasikan (18.6%) have proportions higher than the regional average of 16.5 per cent.

Working Children 7-14 Years
A significant number of children aged 7-14 years in the region are engaged in gainful economic activities. In the region as a whole, 14.2 per cent of children aged 7-14 years worked during the 2000 census reference period and 1.8 per cent claimed they were actively looking for work. This proportion varies greatly from 39.1 per cent in Nkwanta to 6.0 per cent in Keta.

The wide variation in the proportion of children of this age at work instead in the school should be a concern to the regional and district administrations. The percentage of boys 7-14 years engaged in economic activities in the region is higher than that of girls in 10 of the 12 districts. It is the same (6.8%) for both sexes in Kadjebi, and higher for females (39.3%) than males (36.7%) only in Nkwanta, the district with the highest percentage of working children in the region. The great variation in the proportion of children working is reflected in corresponding variation in the proportion, who were students at the 2000 census reference date. The regional average of 69.8 per cent of the children 7-14 years being students conceals the great variation in the districts, from 79.4 per cent in South Tongu, 78.8 per cent in Hohoe and Kadjebi, through 68.0 per cent in Ketu to the very low figure of 41.4 per cent in Nkwanta.

78.3 per cent of the working children are in Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Forestry and related activities, varying from 94.3 per cent in Nkwanta and Krachi to 51.2 per cent in Hohoe. The next occupational category, which accounts for 9.3 per cent of the child labour force; 9.1 of males and 9.5 per cent of females, is Production, Transport and related activities. This is followed by Sales (6.8%); and 5.9% for males and 7.9% for females.

Majority of the working children (87.4%) are in the Private sector, with very little variation between males (87.8%) and females (86.9%) and among the districts. Although the analysis is on the extent of child participation in economic activities in the region, it clearly brings to light the effect of child work on schooling among children 7-14 years. The case of Nkwanta in particular and to some extent Ketu, deserves serious programme action to ensure that an increasing proportion of children in these districts in particular, and in the region in general, are in school rather than being engaged in economic activities at such tender ages.

This section presents background information and some highlights on the economic characteristics of the population of Volta Region, based on the 2000 Census. Detailed analysis of the districts in the region are presented in Chapter Four. The economic characteristics of a population indicate, among other things, the type of economic activities pursued by individuals and groups, and the contributions of the various sectors to the total output of the population. The 2000 Census collected information on five main economic activities, namely, the type of activity, occupation, industry, employment status and institutional sector .

In 1960, questions on economic activity were asked of all persons aged 15 years and older. In 1970 and 1984, similar questions were asked of persons aged 10 years and older. For the 2000 Census, however, the eligible persons were those aged seven years and older. The revision of the eligible age downwards from 15 years in 1960 to seven years in 2000 is due to the fact that an increasing number of younger members of the household are entering the work market. This raises concern for child labour. For both the 1960 and 1970 censuses, the reference period was the four weeks immediately preceding the census night while in 1984 and 2000 the reference period was the seven days preceding the census night.

The economically active population or the potential work force of the country, and for the region, is made up of all persons aged 15-64 years, who are available and ready to work, for the production of goods and services. In all societies, however, there are people outside this group who engage in activities for themselves or their families. For instance, it is observed that children, as young as seven years, do engage in family enterprises, while retired persons also engage in active economic pursuits. In this report, the population of interest covers those aged 15 years and older; those aged 7-14 years are discussed briefly for the purposes of studying working children.

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