In 2000, the labor force was estimated at 5.5 million. Approximately 66% of the workforce is engaged in agriculture, 24% in services, and 10% in industry. Growing unemployment remains a serious problem as new jobs fail to keep pace with the number of new job seekers; the unemployment rate in 2001 was about 60%.
In 1981, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) was formed as an umbrella organization for all trade unions and to promote the formation of a single trade union for each industry. As of 2002, about 25% of the salaried workforce were members of the 31 unions which formed the ZCTU. Spontaneous strikes and lockouts are banned. Government-mandated worker committees carry out many functions performed by unions elsewhere, and annual wage increases are mandated for all workers.
Since independence, a priority of the government's wage policy has been reduction of the huge variation in earnings among workers, partly by increasing minimum wages and by controlling increases in higher wage brackets. The monthly minimum wage in 2002 ranged from about $14 for agricultural workers to $30 in the manufacturing sector. Although children under the age of 15 are legally banned from employment, child labor is widespread in all aspects of the economy. Workplace safety and health continue to be problems. There are no general standards for the safety of the work environment. The government sets standards and enforces them on an inconsistent basis.