The official unemployment rate in the country was reported at 2.1 percent in 2000. However, the reporting of the unemployment rate in former Soviet republics is generally considered inaccurate. Many people are officially employed at state-owned enterprises, and are reported as such, yet in reality are unemployed or working part-time in the informal sector of the economy, selling agricultural produce in the local market or working at other small businesses.
In 2000, the Belarusian economy had 4.5 million workers, 60 percent of whom were reportedly employed in state-owned enterprises. This number may be higher, since the so-called Joint Stock companies, which were formerly state-owned and employed more than 270,000 people in 2000, were still functioning with government assistance. Less than 400,000 people, or only about 9 percent of the workforce, worked in private businesses.
A rural-urban age gap has also emerged. Many of the young job-seekers migrate to larger urban areas. This has led to a high concentration of older people in the rural areas. Older people make up as much as 35 percent of the population of rural villages. The combination of negative rural population growth, an aging society, and the state-run economy, with the emigration of many of the professionals to western countries, has led to an unhappy environment for the Belarusian worker.