The workforce in 1998 was estimated at 6 million, of which 33 percent were women. Of children aged 10 to 14, about 20 percent were engaged in full-time work. There are no official unemployment figures for Côte d'Ivoire, but unemployment figures have little significance in a low-income African economy. There are very few with no work at all. There are no unemployment benefits, and those who do not work rely on support from charities or their families. Many people would like a modern sector job, but eke out an existence on family farms or in casual informal sector activities (such as hawking , portering, and scavenging) in the urban areas.
The National Union of Côte d'Ivoire was formed in 1959 but was replaced in 1962 by the General Union of Côte d'Ivoire Workers (Union Generale des Travailleurs de Côte d'Ivoire), controlled by the PDCI. In mid-1980s, it had some 190 affiliated unions and 100,000 members. A labor inspection service supervises conditions under which foreign workers are employed. The greater prosperity of Côte d'Ivoire has led to considerable migrations of workers from Mali and Burkina Faso, many of them illegal workers, and the inspection service tries to prevent them from being unfairly exploited by employers.
Labor legislation is still based on the French overseas labor code of 1952 which provides for collective agreements between employees and trade unions, the fixing of basic minimum wages by the government, and a 40-hour week for all except agricultural workers for whom longer working hours are permitted. The average annual wage was estimated by the IMF to be US$4,545 in 1999, up from about US$4,200 in 1993 with government employees earning on average better than those in the private sector. Legislation also provides wage earners with paid annual leave and children's allowances. The government has the power to impress persons into public service for up to 2 years.