WORK FORCE AND STANDARD OF LIVING
Until the 1990s, Albania's working people played practically
no meaningful decision-making role in the country's economic life.
Most workers simply followed orders and scrambled to find necessities
in the country's poorly stocked stores. Personal initiative too
often either went unrewarded or was considered ideologically unsound
and therefore hazardous to personal safety. The regime denied
the existence of unemployment in Albania but kept thousands of
redundant workers and managers on factory and government payrolls
and dispatched young people entering the work force to labor manually
on collective farms or elsewhere in the economy.
The collapsing economic system left most Albanians effectively
jobless. Despair, fear of political repression, and television-fed
expectations of an easy life in the West triggered waves of emigration
to Europe's established free-market democracies, in particular
Greece and Italy. The craving to leave Albania in search of work
was so strong that in August 1991, long after the arrival of international
food aid, tens of thousands of people converged on Durrės after
rumors spread through the nearby countryside that a ship would
take passengers from that port to Italy.
Data as of April 1992