In 2000, the employed labor force was estimated at 7.5 million. In 1998, 4.9% of the population was employed in agriculture, 13.3% in industry; 5.6% in construction; 29.4% in commerce, and 7.5% in education. According to official statistics, the unemployment rate was 9% in 2001. There is also considerable underemployment.
About 5% of the total labor force was unionized in 2001. Although unions have played an important role in Peruvian politics in recent decades, membership has declined as the informal labor sector grows. Begun in 1944 under Communist domination, the Workers' Confederation of Peru was reorganized in 1956 as the national central labor organization, now known as the Peruvian Revolutionary Workers' Center (Central de Trabajadores de la Revolución Peruana—CTRP). In 1980, this organization was incorporated into the Democratic Trade Union Front, which also includes the Communist-led General Confederation of Peruvian Workers, the National Workers' Confederation, and the APRA-affiliated General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (Confederación General de Trabajadores Peruanos—CGTP), which dates from 1944. In 1999, the CGTP called a one-day general strike, supported by 400,000 transit workers and other public-sector employees, that paralyzed normal activity in Peru's major cities.
An eight-hour day and a 48-hour week are the maximum in Peru, with a weekly day of rest mandated. Legislation has been uneven, but the law requires in most cases that employers create healthy and safe working conditions. Dangerous and night work are regulated. The civil code prohibits labor by minors under 14; nevertheless, a recent study indicated that 8% of the workforce was between the ages of 8 and 16. Peru's labor stability laws provide that after three months of employment a worker may be dismissed only for a "serious offense." As of 2002, the minimum wage was $128 a month.