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The Executive Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research (ISSER), Professor Peter Quartery, has expressed concern over what he described as a deliberate attempt by government not to set target for job creation in its 2013 budget, which was presented to Parliament some few days ago.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion organized by CITIFM in collaboration with FirstBanc Financial Services in Accra last week, Prof Quartey wondered why government would set targets for GDP growth at eight percent and nine per cent for inflation but failed to tell its citizens how many jobs it intends to create in 2013.

“Today unemployment seems to be the most serious development challenge confronting the nation, so much so that it has become the number one concern of Ghanaians,” he stated.

Prof. Quartey therefore stressed the need for the government’s economic team to rethink its development strategy by giving job creation and livelihood greater emphasis. He said more job opportunities should be made available to poor Ghanaians, especially those living in the countryside. He said opening more job opportunities in the rural areas may entail a review of the agricultural sector.

The Ghanaian economy has been growing “by leaps and bounds” over the years but employment did not grow in a similar degree. This situation has compelled some high profile economists to call for job policies within the agricultural and industry sectors to stem this predicament which continues to worsen every year. Ghana recorded a provisional GDP growth of eight per cent in 2010, 14.4 per cent in 2011, and 7.1 per cent in 2012 but the growth did not translate into job creation.

Currently, the unemployment problem in Ghana has reached a crisis peak, given that the unemployment rate, using the international accepted definition, has consistently increased from a very low level of 2.8 per cent in 1984 to an unacceptably high rate of 10.4 per cent in 2000, according to the Afrobarometer, an independent, nonpartisan research project that measures the social, political, and economic atmosphere in Africa. After a brief respite and a fall in the rate to 6.5 per cent in 2008 it currently stands at 8.5 per cent in 2010. The incidence of underemployment has also worsened off late.

Currently it is estimated that almost four million people out of the 14 million people within the age group of 15-64, regarded as active or working population, are without employment, i.e., those who do not receive any kind of earnings, whether as wage payment or as compensation in self-employment.

This is equivalent to about 28 per cent of the total active population (15-64) of Ghana. The proportion of Ghanaians without employment even increases to 47.2 per cent if we consider only paid employment. This translates into about 6.7 million of active Ghanaians who are not in any paid employment. The worst affected groups of the Ghanaian job crisis include women, young people, the disabled and the elderly.

The situation, however, seems to be more precarious for the youth population aged between 18-35 years. This age group indeed makes up only about 26 per cent of the entire population of the country, but they account for over 45 per cent of the total unemployed Ghanaians.

The seriousness of Ghana’s job market crisis is that it seems to be caught on a “small one-way road into a bottomless pit”. Statistics indicate that whilst about 250,000 young people enter the labour market annually, less than 5000 (two per cent) are able to find employment in the formal sector, leaving about 98 per cent unemployed or to survive in the informal sector on unsecured income.

A new frightening dimension of the unemployment problematic is the rising levels of graduate unemployment, which is estimated to have reached currently over 44 per cent of graduate school leavers. The rising levels unemployment in Ghana can largely be attributed to the inability of the economy and precisely the government of Ghana to create sufficient jobs to absorb the growing numbers of Ghanaians in the labour market.
Source: Felix Dela Klutse/Economic Tribune/Ghana

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