The total number of workers was estimated at 149,900 in 1999. Approximately 40% were employed in tourism-related activities, with another 50% in other service industry. The remaining 10% of workers were equally distributed between industrial and agricultural employment. In 2001, the unemployment rate in the Bahamas was 6.9%.
Labor Unions operate with constitutional protection, and approximately one quarter of the workforce belongs to a union. In the important hotel industry, 80% of the workers are union members. The three leading union federations are the Trade Union Congress, the National Workers Council of Trade Unions and Associations, and the National Congress of Trade Unions. Members of the police force, defense force, fire brigade and prison guards are not permitted to unionize. All labor unions have the right to affiliate with international trade organizations.
In 2000, the government set a minimum wage for all hourly and temporary workers in the public sector, but there is no minimum wage for private sector employees. The Fair labor Standards Act limits the regular workweek to 48 hours, and requires overtime pay and a standard 24-hour rest period The Ministry of Labor promulgates minimum health and safety standards. It enforces these standards with routine inspections, and the standards are generally respected by employers. Children under the age of 14 are not permitted to work in industry or during school hours. Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to work at night.