Total civilian employment in 1998 was 1.7 million of which 14% were in industry; 40% in agriculture, and 46% in other sectors, including services. The unemployment rate in 2002 was 8%. Approximately 25% of working age Moldovans are employed outside the country.
The law provides workers with the right of association, including the right to form and join labor unions. The General Federation of Trade Unions of Moldova (GFTU) is the successor to the previously existing Soviet trade union system. Various industrial unions still maintain voluntary membership in the GFTU, and there have been no attempts to form alternate trade union structures. Government workers do not have the right to strike, nor do those in essential services such as health care and energy. Unions in the private sector may strike if two-thirds of their membership assents. Collective bargaining is used to negotiate workers pay and benefits.
The unrestricted minimum working age is 18, with restrictions as to the number of hours that may be worked for those between 16 and 18 years of age. Children generally do not work except in agriculture on family farms. The labor code stipulates a standard workweek of 40 hours, with at least one day off weekly. In 2002, the monthly minimum wage was $9.00 in the public sector and $12.75 in private firms. The median salary was estimated to be $39 per month.