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Employment and Occupations

In the 19th century, many more people were employed in the service sector than in manufacturing, and in manufacturing, most people were engaged in handicrafts rather than in power-driven, highly mechanized industries. The Census returns of various years listed people in manufacturing occupations; in 1871, they only constituted 17% of “persons with an occupation”. For some reason, workers in mechanized industries such as sugar refining and shipbuilding were not included in these lists.

In 1921 the census survey reported that the manufacturing workforce totalled around 91,000. By then, new industries had emerged, and a larger number of workers were employed in the manufacturing of clothing (27.5%), furniture and rattan ware (22.2%), metals (20.6%), and building and stone cutting (12.3%). In the 1931 census, the number of persons engaged in manufacturing was 100,088. By that time, male workers were mainly carpenters, textile and dress makers, metal workers, builders, bricklayers, stoneworkers and contractors; and the female workers were making textile and clothing, cigarettes, rubber boots and shoes, and rattan wares.