Agriculture jobs fall around the world

Jobs in agriculture worldwide, including forestry and fisheries, fell 17% in the period 2000-2020, reaching 874 million in 2020, 173 million less than in 2000, according to a report by the Organization of the United Nations for Food and Agriculture (FAO).

Roughly, jobs in agriculture have decreased from 800 million people to 590 million in Asia: this means that more than one in four agricultural workers have left the sector for other non-agricultural work in the region.

Between 2000 and 2020, the biggest drop was seen in Europe, as the agricultural population fell by 50% from approximately 35 million, representing a decrease of 18 million people.

During the same period, even if the share of employment in agriculture decreased in Africa, agricultural employment increased to 224 million people.

In particular, according to FAO, with around 200 million people working in agriculture in China and India, together they account for two-thirds of agricultural employment in Asia and 45% of global agricultural employment, despite the fact that 23 million people left the agricultural sector between 2000 and 2019 in India and 169 million in China.

Jobs in agriculture

The share of employment in agriculture, forestry and fisheries declined globally by about 13 percentage points between 2000 and 2020, to 27.4 percent.

However, agriculture remains the second largest source of employment worldwide after the service sector.

A decline in the share of the agricultural sector is often linked to rising levels of income, which explains the decline in the share of employment in agriculture in all regions and almost all countries.

But the Covid-19 pandemic broke this general downward trend: while employment fell across all sectors due to Covid-19 restrictions, industry and the service sector were hit much harder than agriculture, which which resulted in an increase in the share of agricultural employment in all regions except Europe between 2019 and 2020.

The lowest share of employment in agriculture was observed in Europe in 2020, where only 5.2% of the employed population had a job in agriculture. The highest proportion was observed in Africa with 49.5% of the total population employed.


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