Employment in Agriculture

National employment in agriculture as a percentage of total employment

  • Source: ILO/World Bank Group

The Employment in Agriculture (% of total employment) data set is compiled by the World Bank Group from the International Labour Organization ILOSTAT database. The ILO classifies economic activity using the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) of All Economic Activities. Because this classification is based on where work is performed (industry) rather than type of work performed (occupation), all of an enterprise's employees are classified under the same industry, regardless of their trade or occupation. Employment is defined as persons of working age who were engaged in any activity to produce goods or provide services for pay or profit, whether at work during the reference period or not at work due to temporary absence from a job, or to working-time arrangement. The agriculture sector consists of activities in agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing. World Bank Group uses weighted averages to aggregate sectoral information and thus account for broad shifts in employment and stages of development. In the textbook case of economic development, labour flows from agriculture and other labour-intensive primary activities to industry and finally to the services sector; in the process, workers migrate from rural to urban areas. The series is part of the ILO estimates and is harmonized to ensure comparability across countries and over time by accounting for differences in data source, scope of coverage, methodology, and other country-specific factors. The estimates are based mainly on nationally representative labor force surveys, with other sources (population censuses and nationally reported estimates) used only when no survey data are available. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the dataset. For access to the full dataset and additional information, see the Learn More link.

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Employment in agriculture (% of total employment)


There are many differences in how countries define and measure employment status. Where data are obtained from establishment surveys, data cover only employees; thus self-employed and unpaid family workers are excluded. In such cases the employment share of the agricultural sector is severely underreported. Caution should be also used where the data refer only to urban areas, which record little or no agricultural work. Moreover, the age group and area covered could differ by country or change over time within a country. For detailed information consult the original source, the International Labour Organization's ILOSTAT database. Countries also take different approaches to the treatment of unemployed people. In most countries unemployed people with previous job experience are classified according to their last job. But in some countries the unemployed and people seeking their first job are not classifiable by economic activity. Because of these differences, the size and distribution of employment by economic activity may not be fully comparable across countries.

Suggested citation

World Bank Group. "Employment in agriculture (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate)." Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS. Accessed through Resource Watch, (date). www.resourcewatch.org.


International Labour Organization (ILO)
World Bank Group

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