The labor force was 245,492 in 1992 with an unemployment rate of 12 percent, a rate that remained the same in 1999. However, the majority of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods, and there is probably considerable "disguised unemployment" in small-scale farming. There is relatively little work to do for much of the year in subsistence farming , and the work is shared among the family members. During planting and harvesting there is more work to be done, and everyone is more fully occupied. Even in these periods, however, there may be more than enough labor to do the tasks, and the work is again shared by many. Everyone who shares the work appears to have an occupation in agriculture, but in fact workers are not engaged full time for the entire year, hence the "disguised unemployment."
There is no regulation of working conditions in the small-scale farming sector. In other sectors of the economy regulation is not enforced, and minimum wage levels have been rendered obsolete by inflation. Guyanese workers generally possess very low skills levels, as most skilled workers have left the country for better jobs elsewhere. There are active labor unions that exist in nearly every organized industry, but they have not been very effective in attaining better conditions for their laborers.