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The workforce or labour force (labor force in American English; see spelling differences) is

the labour pool in employment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single
company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, state, or country.
Within a company, its value can be labelled as its "Workforce in Place". The workforce of a
country includes both the employed and the unemployed. The labour force participation rate,
LFPR (or economic activity rate, EAR), is the ratio between the labour force and the overall
size of their cohort (national population of the same age range). The term generally excludes the
employers or management, and can imply those involved in manual labour. It may also mean all
those who are available for work.

1 Formal and informal
o 1.1 Informal labour in the world
o 1.2 Informal labour and gender
2 Agricultural and non-agricultural labour
o 2.1 Agriculture and gender
3 Paid and unpaid
o 3.1 Unpaid labour and gender
o 3.2 Unearned pay and gender
4 See also
5 References
6 External links

Formal and informal

Formal labour is any sort of employment that is structured and paid in a formal way.[1] Unlike the
informal sector of the economy, formal labour within a country contributes to that country's
gross national product.[2] Informal labour is labour that falls short of being a formal arrangement
in law or in practice.[3] It can be paid or unpaid and it is always unstructured and unregulated.[4]
Formal employment is more reliable than informal employment. Generally, the former yields
higher income and greater benefits and securities for both men and women.[5]

Informal labour in the world

The contribution of informal labourers is immense. Informal labour is expanding globally, most
significantly in developing countries.[6] According to a study done by Jacques Charmes, in the
year 2000 informal labour made up 57% of non-agricultural employment, 40% of urban
employment, and 83% of the new jobs in Latin America. That same year, informal labour made
up 78% of non-agricultural employment, 61% of urban employment, and 93% of the new jobs in
Africa.[7] Particularly after an economic crisis, labourers tend to shift from the formal sector to
the informal sector. This trend was seen after the Asian economic crisis which began in 1997.[8]

Informal labour and gender

Gender is frequently associated with informal labour. Women are employed more often
informally than they are formally, and informal labour is an overall larger source of employment
for females than it is for males.[5] Women frequent the informal sector of the economy through
occupations like home-based workers and street vendors.[8] The Penguin Atlas of Women in the
World shows that in the 1990s, 81% of women in Benin were street vendors, 55% in Guatemala,
44% in Mexico, 33% in Kenya, and 14% in India. Overall, 60% of women workers in the
developing world are employed in the informal sector.[1]

The specific percentages are 84% and 58% for women in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America
respectively.[1] The percentages for men in both of these areas of the world are lower, amounting
to 63% and 48% respectively.[1] In Asia, 65% of women workers and 65% of men workers are
employed in the informal sector.[9] Globally, a large percentage of women that are formally
employed also work in the informal sector behind the scenes. These women make up the hidden
work force.[9]

Agricultural and non-agricultural labour

This is a chart showing employed civilians by occupation and sex in 2007 in the USA

Formal and informal labour can be divided into the subcategories of agricultural work and non-
agricultural work. Martha Chen et al. believe these four categories of labour are closely related
to one another.[10] A majority of agricultural work is informal, which the Penguin Atlas for
Women in the World defines as unregistered or unstructured.[9] Non-agricultural work can also
be informal. According to Martha Chen, informal labour makes up 48% of non-agricultural work
in North Africa, 51% in Latin America, 65% in Asia, and 72% in Sub-Saharan Africa.[5]

Agriculture and gender

The agricultural sector of the economy has remained stable in recent years.[11] According to the
Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, women make up 40% of the agricultural labour force in
most parts of the world, while in developing countries they make up 67% of the agricultural
workforce.[9] Joni Seager shows in her atlas that specific tasks within agricultural work are also
gendered. For example, for the production of wheat in a village in Northwest China, men
perform the ploughing, the planting, and the spraying, while women perform the weeding, the
fertilising, the processing, and the storage.[9]
In terms of food production worldwide, the atlas shows that women produce 80% of the food in
Sub-Saharan Africa, 50% in Asia, 45% in the Caribbean, 25% in North Africa and in the Middle
East, and 25% in Latin America.[9] A majority of the work women do on the farm is considered
housework and is therefore negligible in employment statistics.[9]

Paid and unpaid

Paid and unpaid work are also closely related with formal and informal labour. Some informal
work is unpaid, or paid under the table.[10] Unpaid work can be work that is done at home to
sustain a family, like child care work, or actual habitual daily labour that is not monetarily
rewarded, like working the fields.[9] Unpaid workers have zero earnings, and although their work
is valuable, it is hard to estimate its true value. The controversial debate still stands. Men and
women tend to work in different areas of the economy, regardless of whether their work is paid
or unpaid. Women focus on the service sector, while men focus on the industrial sector.

Unpaid labour and gender

Women usually work fewer hours in income generating jobs than men do.[5] Often it is
household work that is unpaid. Worldwide, women and girls are responsible for a great amount
of household work.[9]

The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, published in 2008, stated that in Madagascar,
women spend 20 hours per week on housework, while men spend only two.[9] In Mexico, women
spend 33 hours and men spend 5 hours.[9] In Mongolia the housework hours amount to 27 and 12
for women and men respectively.[9] In Spain, women spend 26 hours on housework and men
spend 4 hours.[9] Only in the Netherlands do men spend 10% more time than women do on
activities within the home or for the household.[9]

The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World also stated that in developing countries, women and
girls spend a significant amount of time fetching water for the week, while men do not. For
example, in Malawi women spend 6.3 hours per week fetching water, while men spend 43
minutes. Girls in Malawi spend 3.3 hours per week fetching water, and boys spend 1.1 hours.[9]
Even if women and men both spend time on household work and other unpaid activities, this
work is also gendered.[5]

Unearned pay and gender

In the United Kingdom in 2014, two-thirds of workers on long-term sick leave were women,
despite women only constituting half of the workforce, even after excluding maternity leave.[12]

See also

Look up workforce in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Collective bargaining
Contingent workforce
Division of labour
Human capital
Employment-to-population ratio
List of countries by labor force


Female labor force in the Muslim world

Feminisation of poverty