The civilian labor force was estimated at 2.35 million in 1999. In that year 30% of the workforce was employed in agriculture, 55% in services, and 15% in industry. Unemployment in 2001 was estimated at 10%, down from 40–50% in 1985.
The first official recognition of labor came in 1946, when a minister of labor and social welfare was added to the cabinet. In 1950, labor was permitted to organize. By 1972, about 4% of all wage and salary earners were unionized, and the proportion had increased to about 20% by in 2002. At that time, there were about 150 active unions and other workers' organizations, with a total of over 300,000 members. Technically, only private sector workers may strike, nevertheless, many public sector workers carry out strikes that are treated as legitimate. Collective bargaining is used on a limited basis.
The workday is fixed at eight hours, and the workweek at 44 hours. Because of severe rural underemployment, many workers receive far less than the official minimum agricultural wage, which in 2002 was equivalent to $3.57 per day (the minimum wage was $4.80 per day for industrial and service workers). Although the law prohibits employment for those under age 14, child labor remains a problem.