Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. About 75% of its people live in poverty, most working as subsistence farmers. There is a small manufacturing sector. Tourism was a growing source of employment at one time, but the political turmoil of the 1980s disrupted tourism.

Most of Haiti's economic problems are the result of economic mismanagement and government corruption. Forests were cleared, which caused soil erosion, making the land dry and infertile. The current government is trying to stimulate the economy, but progress is slow.

Farming employs nearly three-fifths of the workforce. Farming products such as coffee, cocoa, cotton, mangoes and sisal are exported. The growing population has forced many small farmers to focus on growing crops for their own use such as corn, rice, sorghum, beans and fruit. Most rural farmers have a few farm animals such as goats, pigs, chickens and cattle. These animals serve as a kind of "savings account" for these people, as they can be sold to pay for marriages, medical bills, schooling or seeds for crops.
Did you know?

Haiti produces some of the finest coffees in the world.

Industry is concentrated in Port-au-Prince and employs only about 5% of working Haitians. Factories manufacture baseballs, electronic components and clothing. An increase in the minimum wage has made Haiti's pay level slightly higher than that of neighbouring countries. As a result, and because of earlier trade restrictions with other countries, manufacturing has decreased to some extent.

Haiti's labour force is made up of about 3 million people. Women make up 42% of the official workforce. Haiti's female workforce participation rate is one of the highest in the developing world. Poor rural families also rely on children to help with the farm work.

Because the Haitian population is increasing rapidly, unemployment is estimated to be as high as 65% of the work force. Some families are so poor that they send their children to work as domestic servants in the homes of the middle-class.

Public assistance and other social welfare programs are extremely limited in Haiti. Many Haitians rely on their families and the services provided by non-governmental organizations to meet their needs.

There is a small group of affluent Haitians. Although they constitute only about 2% of the total population, they control about 44% of the national income.