Most of the Afghan labor force in 2001 was employed in agriculture, domestic trade, and, increasingly, cross-border trade. There are no exact figures, but it is estimated that many Afghans work as casual laborers in neighboring Pakistan and Iran. While income derived from remittances is not known, it is estimated to be increasing by the year. Unemployment has risen significantly in services, industries, and other formal institutions since the civil war began. Afghanistan's total workforce was estimated in 1997 as 8 million. The unemployment rate in 1995 was estimated at 8 percent, according to the CIA.
The Taliban's harshly discriminatory policies against women have affected the Afghan economy in a devastating way by cutting the labor force by almost three-quarters. The UN estimates that 60 to 75 percent of the Afghan population is composed of women, and there are hundreds of thousands of widows in Afghanistan, of whom 50,000 live in Kabul alone. Over 150,000 women in Kabul were not allowed to work under the Taliban.