In 2000, the workforce was estimated at 1.4 million people. About half of the population engages in animal husbandry as nomadic herders. In 2000, unemployment officially stood at 20%. A shortage of skilled labor had required the procurement of a large supplementary workforce from the former USSR and Eastern Europe.
The right to organize trade unions and professional organizations is granted by the 1990 constitution. In that year, the Association of Free Trade Unions, (AFTU) which includes about 70 unions, was chartered. In 2002, there were 400,000 unionized workers, amounting to less than 50% of the workforce. Nonessential workers have a right to strike.
According to the labor code, the working week is fixed at 40 hours, and for those under 18, at 36 hours. Children as young as 14 or 15 may work with parental permission. In reality, regulations regarding child labor are not effectively enforced. The legal minimum wage was less than $25 per month in 2002, although most workers earned in excess of this amount.