Because of the flight from the land and the modernization of farming methods, the percentage of the EEC/EU's working population engaged in farming has fallen from 21% in 1960 to 13% in 1970, to under 7% in 1989 (8% if forestry and fishing were included).
Increasingly fewer people were working in agriculture in the European Union. Only in 1998, the agricultural sector lost the equivalent of 115,000 full-time workers, equal to 1.7% of total employment in agriculture. The sharpest fall occurred in Germany, Greece and Sweden. Only in Spain and the Netherlands was there a slight increase. The rural exodus, and the move from farms to factories and to the services sector, began a long time ago in Europe. The movement has accelerated sharply in the course of the previous 20 years, however. Employment in agriculture, measured in terms of full-time jobs, fell from 12.4 million in 1979 to 6.7 million in 1998 in the 15-nation EU as a whole.
Jobs are disappearing in agriculture for two reasons in the Europe. The number of farms falls, while at the same time machinery is replacing workers. And where the farmer was once aided by members of his family, the tendency now is to hire farm workers.