Country Listing

Hungary Table of Contents


Work Force

In 1987 about 6.1 million of Hungary's 10.6 million people were of working age, and 4.9 million were active earners. The number of active earners was expected to remain between 4.8 and 5.1 million in the 1990s. The state sector employed about 3.5 million persons (70.5 percent of the country's active earners) in 1986; the cooperative sector, approximately 1.2 million (23.8 percent); and the private sector, about 266,000 (5.4 percent). According to foreign observers, official statistics underestimated the size of the private sector because they included only persons who reported their private activity as their primary occupation. In the late 1980s, approximately 75 percent of Hungary's families earned extra incomes working "sideline activities" to supplement the wages and benefits that family members earned in the state and cooperative sectors. These activities, which were mostly agricultural, generated productive man-hours equal to about 20 percent of the man-hours worked each year in the socialist sector (the state and cooperative sectors). While sideline activities contributed to family incomes and the nation's productivity, they also deprived the socialist sector of the energy and attention that workers would otherwise direct to their primary jobs.

In 1987 workers in industry numbered just over 1.5 million, or 31.2 percent of the active earners, including 57,600 in the private sector (see table 5, Appendix). When rapid industrialization began in 1949, only 19.4 percent of the labor force worked in industry. Hungary had about 19.3 percent of its labor force or 890,000 active earners working in the agricultural sector in 1987, including about 846,100 in the socialist sector and 43,900 in the private sector. The number of persons actually engaged in private agriculture was much higher, however, because government statistics counted collective- and state-farm members who worked household plots only as members of the socialist sector. The number of workers in the agricultural sector has steadily declined since the war. In 1949 about 53.8 percent of the labor force worked in agriculture; this figure dropped to 24.4 percent in 1970 and to 19 percent in 1980, but it rebounded slightly to 19.3 in 1987 as agricultural enterprises began employing more workers in nonagricultural activities. The service sector accounted for 21.3 percent of the active work force in 1986; commerce, 10.5 percent; transportation and telecommunications employed 8.3 percent; and construction, 7 percent.

Data as of September 1989