The labor force in 2000 numbered 4.8 million workers. In 1998, an estimated 19% were engaged in agriculture, 41% in services, and 40% in industry and construction. In 2000, the number of registered unemployed was 2.1%, but there was a large segment of the population that was underemployed.
Although the constitution provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions, these rights are not respected in practice. Union activity is discouraged, and almost impossible to conduct in most of the state-owned larger industries. Strikes are legally permitted but tight control by the regime over public demonstrations makes it difficult to strike or hold public rallies. The government has harassed and arrested union leaders, and broken up union-sponsored activities.
The statutory minimum employment age is 16, and the workweek is set at 40 hours. Safety and health standards in the working place are often ignored. As of 2001, the minimum wage was $30 a month which does not provide a decent standard of living. However, average real wages improved during that year from around $40 to $60 per month.