In 2000, the labor force totaled 2.4 million workers. Of those, 74% were engaged in services; 22% in industry; with the remaining 4% in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. From 1960– 88, Norway's average unemployment rate was only 1.6%. Unemployment gradually increased during the 1970s, and decreased from 5.5% in 1991 to 3.9% in 2002.
The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), founded in 1899, had all national trade unions as its affiliates by 1905. In 2002, the unions composing the LO represented some 60% of the employed labor force. The Norwegian Employers' Confederation, founded in 1900, agreed in 1907 to national collective bargaining, but industrial disputes remained a chronic problem until the Trades Dispute Act of 1952 facilitated mediation in place of arbitration. A system of compulsory unemployment insurance was established in 1959, which provides in part for financial aid for vocational training. Antiunion discrimination is prohibited by law.
In 1919, the eight-hour day was established, together with paid holiday periods. In 1986, the workweek was reduced to 37.5 hours. There is no legal minimum wage. Norwegian workers receive four weeks plus one day of annual vacation time with pay. Under the 1972 amendments to the Joint Stock Companies Act, workers must be represented on corporate boards of directors or other decision-making authorities in both private and public enterprises; generally, employee representatives make up one-third of a company board. Children between the ages of 13 and 18 years may engage in light work that will not negatively affect their health or education, but only on a part-time basis.