Employment figures from the Mexican national census are the basis for this analysis of employment changes in Mexico between 1895-1980. The work identifies longterm trends in the volume and composition of employment and distinguishes 3 main periods in the evolution of employment. The first period, from 1895-1930, marked the end of a stage of development lasting until about 1907 in which sufficient internal stability was achieved to support Mexico's entrance into the world market. Export of agricultural products and metals was the principal focus of economic growth. Construction of roads and railroads was a central element of progress. But economic and social problems manifested in regional disparities, concentration of wealth, conflicts between economic sectors, low pay for agricultural workers, and fierce social and political control characterized the period and culminated in the Mexican Revolution. After the first decade of the 20th century the ability of the economy to absorb new workers began to decline, and the falling of crude activity rates was not reversed until the 1940s. During the 1920s, total employment increased less than 6%, reflecting a net increase of 403,000 male workers and a decrease of 110,000 female workers. The second major period of employment from 1930-1970 saw the change from an economy based on export of primary products to one based on manufacturing for the internal market. There were 2 subperiods, a stage of transition from 1930-50, the economy registered marked fluctuations, but by the 1940s the consolidation of state power and important reforms permitting expansion of the internal market were factors in an accelerated growth of employment relative to the preceding intercensal period. Despite considerable increases in agricultural employment, the relative share of the agricultural sector in total employment was beginning a decline. Employment registered the highest growth rates of the century in the 1940s and exceeded population growth. The increased employment was explained by accelerated growth and accumulation in manufacturing along with increases in commerce, services, construction, and agriculture. From 1950-70, industrial development was consolidated, and there was a generalized expansion in employment in manufacturing as well as in the secondary and tertiary sectors. The economy was less able to absorb new labor, primarily because the agricultural sector had reached the limits of expansion in both the commercial and peasant sector by 1965, at just the time that population growth was most rapid. During the 1970s, manufacturing employment grew less rapidly because of modernization, almost exclusive orientation to the internal market which limited expansion, and scarcity of funds for importing capital goods. A new model of growth will be needed if Mexico is to escape its present stagnation, and a significant share of economic activity will need to be oriented to export. Until this process is consolidated, the national economy is unlikely to show signs of sustained recuperation.