In 2000, there were two million employed persons in Paraguay. Agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry employed 45% of the workforce. In 2001, it was estimated that 17.8% of the labor force was unemployed.
The constitution provides Paraguayans in both the public and private sector the freedom to form and join unions without government interference. The constitution also protects fundamental worker rights, including the right of association. There also are provisions for anti-discrimination, employment tenure, severance pay, collective bargaining, and the right to strike. As of 2001, 15% of the labor force, or about 121,000 workers, belonged to unions, which numbered approximately 1,600.
Labor laws provide for a maximum workweek of 48 hours for day work and 42 for night work, with one day of rest. The law also provides for an annual bonus of one month's salary. The minimum wage was $170 per month in 2001 for the private sector; the public sector has no mandated minimum. It is estimated that 50% of workers earn less than the minimum amount. The minimum working age is 15, although minors as young as 12 may work in family enterprises. In reality these provisions are not effectively enforced and thousands of children work both on farms and in urban areas.