The total labor force was estimated at 18 million in 1998. In 2001, 30% of the employed workforce was in agriculture, 25% was in industry, and 45% was in the service industry. As of 1999, unemployment stood at 14%.
The labor code grants workers the right to form and join their own organizations, however, the government-controlled Workers' House is the only authorized national labor organization. The Workers' House controls all workers according to government objectives. Strikes are not permitted. Islamic principles and dress are strictly observed at work with transgressions subjecting the worker to penalties. Workers cannot bargain collectively.
The Labor Law forbids employment of minors under 15 years of age, but these regulations are not enforced. Forced and bonded labor by children remains a serious problem. In 1997, the minimum wage was $2.80 per day. Many middle class citizens work several jobs to support their families. The Labor Code stipulates a six-day, 48-hour workweek, with one rest day.