In 2000, total employment amounted to an estimated 3.83 million. As of 1998, 26% of workers were in agriculture, with 31% in industry and the remaining 43% in service. Unemployment was estimated at 18% in 2002.
The constitution guarantees the right of all to form or join trade unions of their own choosing. Bulgaria has two large trade union confederations, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB), and Podkrepa, which collectively represent the vast majority of unionized workers. The labor code recognizes the right to strike when all other means of conflict resolution have been exhausted. Essential employees are forbidden to strike and political strikes are prohibited as well.
Minimum age for employment is 16 years, with 18 years the minimum for hazardous work. In the formal sector these regulations are generally observed, but in certain industries, family operations, and illegal businesses, children are exploited. The law establishes a standard workweek of 40 hours with at least one 24-hour rest period per week. The minimum wage was about $47 per month as of 2002. Minimum health and safety standards exist and are effectively enforced in the public sector, but not effectively enforced in the largely unregulated and often informal private sector.