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.