Although an important employer and source of export earnings, agriculture accounted for only 5.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1996. According to World Bank figures, by 1999 its share had decreased still further to about 3.6 percent of the GDP. This drop represents a massive fall from the 1960s when sugar was the major economic force on the island, contributing 25 percent of the GDP, and 1979 when agriculture represented 15.5 percent. Sugar remains the largest employer and source of revenue in agricultural terms.
Industry was estimated to contribute 22.5 percent of the GDP in 1996 and, according to the World Bank, 23.8 percent in 1999. Industry has always represented a high percentage of the GDP in St. Kitts and Nevis because the country has well-established, traditional manufacturing such as sugar refining.
The services sector has shown sustained growth, rising from 59.6 percent of the GDP in 1979 to 72 percent in 1996. The World Bank figure for 1999 is almost unchanged at 72.6 percent. The main service sector is tourism, but financial services are becoming an increasingly important source of revenue.