In 1999, unemployment was estimated at 40 percent. Employees were irregularly paid their wages which provoked waves of strikes in both the Federation and the Serb Republic. When paid, the average monthly wage in the more affluent Federation was US$194 in mid-2000, up by 8.4 percent from 1999, and inflation remained low. Wages and prices varied significantly by region. In the Federation, an average net wage in March 2000 bought 52kg of butter; in January 1998, 37 kg. In the Serb Republic, the March 2000 average net wage bought 26.6 kg of butter, in December 1998, 14.5 kg.
The limited scope of recovery has resulted in modest job generation, with most growth occurring in the public administration. The World Bank (WB) announced a US$15 million program to re-deploy unemployed ex-soldiers and insists that current labor laws and regulations, a legacy from the old socialist system, are now inappropriate. The WB provides generous severance payments for employees and keeps unpaid workers on waiting lists rather than laying them off. However some believe this will burden the companies, blur unemployment numbers, and impair labor mobility .