Unemployment and underemployment have remained serious problems for the DROC. In 1998, there was an estimated labor force of 20,000,000; perhaps fewer than 20% were wage and salary workers. Agriculture employs 80% of the population, with the modern sector employing only about 400,000 persons.
The law provides for the right to unionize with the exception of magistrates and military personnel. The National Union of Congolese Workers (UNTC) was the largest federation of unions in 2002. There are almost 100 other registered unions as well. The right to strike is limited by restrictions, and the unions have difficulty protecting workers' rights due to the difficult economic situation. Labor leaders continue to be harassed by government officials.
The official workweek 48 hours in six days. The legal minimum employment age is 18 although many children work to help feed their families. Inflation is so high that a minimum wage is useless; it was last revised in 1990. All wages and salaries are extremely low, and most people cannot maintain a decent lifestyle.