Country Listing

Nicaragua Table of Contents


Composition of the Labor Force

In 1989 the total labor force consisted of approximately 1,277,000 persons. Almost one-third of the labor force is made up of women, and about one-third of all working-age women hold jobs. In general, members of the labor force are relatively unskilled and have a high degree of mobility, frequently changing jobs or moving to other areas of the country to obtain work. Agriculture accounts for more than 30 percent of all employment, and workers outside of agriculture are more likely to be self-employed in small family-owned enterprises than salaried employees of larger concerns.

Approximately 40,000 new people usually enter the Nicaraguan labor force each year. Throughout the 1980s, many Nicaraguan workers were diverted from productive economic activities to the war effort. The 1990 demobilization of the military, however, added 50,000 persons to the work force.

Nicaragua entered the 1980s with a severe scarcity of skilled labor, especially technicians and other professionals. A "brain drain"--more than half a million professionals moved out of the country during the Sandinista era--further robbed the country of the expertise needed to staff its institutions. As many as 70 percent of Nicaraguan graduates with a master's degree in business administration were estimated to be in self-imposed exile in 1990.

Data as of December 1993