This paper provides an overview and comparison of labour markets in agricultural and rural areas in the three candidate countries for the EU membership: Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. We analyse and compare the labour market structures and the factors driving them. The analyses are based on the available cross-section and time-series data on agricultural labour structures and living conditions in rural areas. Considerable differences are found among the candidate countries in the importance of the agricultural labour force, between rural and urban labour, and in poverty and living conditions in rural areas. Agricultural and rural labour market structures are the result of demographic and education processes, in addition to labour flows between agricultural and non-agricultural activities, from rural areas to urban ones and migration flows abroad. Declines in the agricultural labour force and rural population are foreseen for each of the candidate countries, but with significant variations between them. Showing different patterns over time, labour market developments in the sector and rural areas have been shaped by the overall labour market institutions, conditions and other factors in each country, such as the legal basis, educational attainment and migration flows, as well as the presence of non-agricultural activities in rural areas.