Uzbekistan Labor Market

More than a quarter of the population of Uzbekistan is estimated to be employed in agriculture, one-third is found in industry and construction, while the rest are employed in the service sector. Unemployment is high and the informal sector is extensive.

During the Soviet era (1924–1991), the government had an obligation to provide employment to all citizens and there were no subsidies for the unemployed. Since 1992, the government is no longer obliged to keep all citizens employed and as a result, unemployment has risen sharply.

The attempts to calculate the number of unemployed are made more difficult by the fact that many people formally retire without having really anything to do and without getting paid. The problems of unemployment are exacerbated by a rapid increase in population. The labor market has a hard time accepting all young people leaving school.

The informal labor market is extensive and many uz cups have also applied to neighboring countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan for temporary jobs in agriculture.

The regime has control over trade union activities and independent trade unions are not allowed. All workers have the legal right to form or join trade unions, but in practice there is only one trade union, the Uzbekistan Federation of Trade Unions (RTDU), whose operations have hardly changed since the Soviet era.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Uzbekistan, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Uzbekistan Population



5.5 percent (2019)

Youth Unemployment

10.3 percent (2019)



Uzbek commits terrorist acts in New York

October 31st

A spokesman for President Mirzijojev says that the Uzbek authorities are willing to assist the United States in investigating the terrorist act in New York that claimed the lives of eight people on October 31, 2017. The perpetrator, who crashed the death victim with a car, is identified as the 29-year-old Uzbek woman Saifullo Saipov. He was shot by the police shortly after the deed and is seriously injured. Saipov left Uzbekistan seven years ago and became radicalized in the United States. He has expressed sympathy for the Islamic State (IS) extreme Islamist movement.

Imprisoned opposition is released prematurely

October 7

In early October, several opposition activists are reported to have been released prematurely from long prison sentences. Among them are a human rights activist, a regime-critical journalist and a member of the opposition party Erk (Freedom). The releases are the latest in the line of signs of a somewhat milder social climate under President Mirzijoev. In August, Human Rights Watch reported that five political prisoners had been released since Mirzijoyev came to power after Islam Karimov’s death in September 2016.

Military exercise with Russia

October 3

Russia and Uzbekistan carry out their first joint military exercise since 2005. The exercise is held in Uzbekistan.


Forced labor is abolished

September 21

Prime Minister Aripov announces that the state will no longer force thousands of school students, students, teachers and nursing staff to participate in the cotton harvest. Formally, the seasonal work has been voluntary and has been paid with approximately 4 öre per kilo of picked cotton. In practice, it has been a form of modern slavery. Those who refused to participate have risked dismissal from their regular work or be suspended from their studies.

The fixed exchange rate is abandoned

September 3

The government decides that the country’s currency, which, should no longer have a fixed exchange rate against the US dollar. The market should instead control its value. It should also be possible for individuals and companies to buy unlimited amounts of foreign currency. With the currency reforms, the government hopes to attract more foreign investment to Uzbekistan. In practice, the fixed official exchange rate has led to widespread black trading, where the value of the sum has been about half of the official exchange rate. It has been unfavorable for companies that have done business with abroad. The immediate consequence of letting the summer flow freely is that in a day it loses almost half its value to the dollar.

The “black list” is getting shorter

1 September

President Mirzijojev says that around 16,000 people have been removed from the “black list” of potential Muslim extremists who are considered a threat to state security. Originally, the list should have contained over 17,000 names. He says those who have been removed from the list should “be included in society and educated”. To date, 9,500 of them have been employed.


Media executives are kicked

August 30th

The head of the state television and radio company is laid off after less than a month’s employment. At the same time, the head of the president’s press department is dismissed. Officially, the information is not commented on, but the dismissals are then carried out in an experiment with live broadcast news programs brought to light. After President Mirzijoyev repeatedly said that the state media should stop constantly uncritically praising the government and starting to reflect the public interest, the TV management took him to the floor. In several talk shows and panel debates, representatives of the government and government agencies were exposed to the critical issues of journalists. The new grip aroused great interest, but the experiment had barely started until Prime Minister Aripov ordered it to be stopped. Now only well-prepared news programs can be broadcast immediately.

More trips abroad are allowed

August 16th

President Mirzijojev signs a law that from 2019 gives Uzbek citizens the right to travel abroad without special permission. So far, they have only been able to travel freely to the neighboring countries that were part of the Soviet Union.

Signs of increased political tolerance

August 16th

According to Uzbek media and government officials, hundreds of people are being removed from the state’s “black list” of suspected extremists and political dissidents. Estimates based on reports from individual districts suggest that several thousand people have regained their political freedom since Shavkat Mirzijojev took office as president in December 2016. Mirzijojev has also made efforts to ease the rules on foreign exchange trade and the exit permit for Uzbek citizens. The need to modernize the crisis economy and attract new investment to the country is great.


The president’s daughter is imprisoned

July 28

Authorities confirm for the first time that President Karimov’s daughter Gulnara Karimova is in prison for, among other things, blackmail, embezzlement, fraud and money laundering. According to the prosecutor, more criminal investigations are ongoing against her. The Prosecutor’s Office says it is working to freeze assets worth about $ 1.5 billion in a large number of countries, including Sweden. In 2015, she will have been sentenced to five years in prison but initially granted the right to release.


MRI report: The World Bank supports forced labor

June 27

Human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and the Uzbek-German Forum asserts in a report to the World Bank support cotton production in Uzbekistan, which is largely based on forced labor. Every harvest season, hundreds of thousands of people, including children, health professionals and teachers, are forced to work in the cotton fields. Hundreds of international companies have pledged not to knowingly buy cotton from Uzbekistan, since production is largely under slavery-like conditions, but the two organizations say they have documented how forced labor occurs in a project funded by the World Bank.


Famous political prisoners are released

February 13

President Mirzijojev’s government releases the banker Rustam Usmonov, a political prisoner who has been imprisoned since 1998, formally for financial crimes. At the same time, the regime-critical journalist Muhammad Bekjon, who was imprisoned in 1999 for the coup attempt, is also released.

Uzbekistan Labor Market