The total labor force as of 2001 was 128,500. In 1997, services accounted for over 75% of the labor force; manufacturing about 9%, agriculture 6%, and mining and construction about 8%. Unemployment, traditionally high, was reported at 19.7% in 1995, but fell to 10% in 2001.
There is one major union, the Barbados Workers' Union, and several smaller specialized ones. About 30% of the workforce was organized in 2001. Workers freely enjoy the right to organize and join unions, and unions (except in certain "essential" sector) are not restricted in their right to strike. Trade unions are affiliated with a variety of regional and international labor organizations, and the Caribbean Congress of Labor has its center of operations in Barbados.
The standard legal workweek is five days and 40 hours, with overtime pay required for additional hours worked. A minimum of a three-week paid holiday each year (four weeks for those employed at least five years) is required by law. There is a legal minimum work age of 16, which is generally observed. The law sets the minimum wage for only household domestics and shop assistants.