ACCORDING TO THE 1881 CENSUS AGRICULTURE PROVIDED an important source of livelihood to as many as 4,86,248 people out of a total population of 7,51,228 or to nearly 64.72 per cent. Only in large towns were there crafts-men who entirely depended for their living on their craft-income. The large demand for garden-produce at Ahmadnagar, Shirur, Pune and Bombay and the improved communications increased the area under garden tillage, especially in Parner, Ahmadnagar, Jamkhed and Shegaon talukas. Besides some husbandmen used to go for a time to Bombay and other industrial places to work as labourers and carriers. Agriculture still supports the highest number of people in the district. According to 1961 Census 80.69 per cent of the total working population worked on land. Of this 58.73 per cent of the total workers in the district worked as cultivators and 21.96 per cent as agricultural labourers. In 1961, the percentage of workers working on land to the total workers in the district was ranging between 74.41 and 89.12 for all the talukas except Ahmadnagar taluka which because of its large urban population had quite a low proportion (57.12). Due to the predominance of agriculture the labour participation rates in the district were higher both for males and females than the State averages in 1961. They were 57.50 for males and 42.75 for females as against the State participation rates which were 57.09 for males and 38.10 for females. Within the district the labour participation rates showed a very high percentage in case of males, e.g., Shevgaon (60.31), Akola (59.93), Nevasa (59.89), Jamkhed (59.66), and Karjat (59.51). For females the rates were high in Akola (53.75) and Parner (51.34). However, a considerable decrease in the number of persons depending upon agriculture could be observed if the corresponding figures for 1951 and 1961 Censuses are compared. This could be attributed to the changes in the method of economic classification or the changes made in the classification of the livelihood pattern.

In 1951 cultivators and agricultural labourers including earning dependents formed 60.87 per cent and 14.05 per cent of the total workers, respectively, in the district. The corresponding proportions according to 1961 Census were 58.73 per cent and 21.96 per cent. The proportion of agricultural labourers has increased from 14.05 per cent in 1951 to 21.96 per cent in 1961 which might be attributed partly to the increased area under irrigation of sugarcane and to gradually expanding industrial activities.

According to the 1971 Census 76.9 per cent of the total working population worked on land. Of this, 46.9 per cent of the total workers in the district worked as cultivators and 30 per cent as agricultural labourers.