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Palermo's economy is based principally on the service industries, employment in the public sector being particularly high, and indeed now superior to effective administrative requirements. The numerous commercial activities are carried out particularly by small units or involve only modest trade. There is a busy port, handling passengers and freight. Though the industrial sector has developed to some extent over the past few decades, it is unable to absorb the large available workforce (Palermo has a high rate of unemployment) and factories are mostly small to medium in size.
The most important branches of industry are: housing construction, linked to the high level of urban expansion, shipbuilding, engineering, food manufacturing and textiles.
Agriculture still provides employment for consistent numbers (citrus groves, horticulture in the Conca d'Oro) and the flow of tourists is attracted by the city's monuments and works of art as well as by the nearby beach at Mondello.