In 2000, the economically active population totaled 291,000 in the Greek Cypriot area and 86,300 in the Turkish Cypriot area. Of total employees in the Greek Cypriot area in 2000, 73% were employed in services, 22% in industry, and 5% in agriculture. In the Turkish Cypriot area, the breakdown was services 56%, industry 23%, and agriculture 21%. The unemployment rate in the Greek Cypriot area was 3% in 1999, while in the Turkish area it amounted to 5.6%.
Trade unions, legalized in 1937, represent employees in agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, building construction, utilities, governmental services, trade, and general labor. Registration of trade unions is compulsory, but membership in a union is not. Most labor disputes are resolved by government mediation. Workers of the Turkish community have their own labor organizations: the Turkish Cypriot Trade Union Federation and the Revolutionary Trade Unions Federation. More than 70% of the Greek Cypriot workforce belonged to a union in 2002. Approximately 50 to 60% of the Turkish Cypriot workforce in the private sector is unionized, and all of the public sector employees are union members.
There is a legislated minimum wage in the Greek Cypriot community; because of inflation this figure is adjusted twice yearly. In 2002 it was $420 per month for many occupations, rising to $450 per month after six months employment. In the same year, the Turkish Cypriot minimum wage was approximately $170 per month. These wages are insufficient to support a wage earner and family, but most workers earn significantly more than this. The minimum working age in both communities is 16, with apprentice programs allowing 15 year olds to work in the Turkish Cypriot community. In the government controlled areas the legal workweek is 39 hours for white-collar workers and 38 hours for blue-collar workers, with fewer hours in the summer months. In the Turkish Cypriot community the workweek is 38 hours in the winter and 36 hours in the summer. Health and safety standards in the workplace continue to improve.