Most Yapese today combine some wage work activities with subsistence farming. Most Yapese are employed by the government. Private trading companies and service industries provide additional jobs.
About half of the adult male population and up to 20 percent of the adult female population are employed. In addition to wage employment, nearly all Yapese engage in some subsistence food production. Swamp taro is the primary staple crop of the Yapese, and most villages have large taro swamps that were built as village projects in the past. Individual families own parcels of the village taro patches and also have garden plots in the surrounding hills from which they produce yams, bananas, breadfruit, and other supplementary fruits and crops. A few farmers produce copra as a cash crop, and a handful of entrepreneurs raise chickens, pigs, and other cash items for the domestic market.
Two eastern villages in Yap, Gachpar and Wonyan, hold traditional trading rights to the atoll groups in the Central Carolines, including Ulithi and Woleai. For atoll dwellers, trade with Yap provided a source of lumber and food not available in their restricted environments. The Yapese in these two villages obtained supplies of sennit (coconut fiber rope), valuable woven mats, fiber loincloths, and shell valuables that were important for ceremonial exchanges and political prestige and power in Yap. Yapese sailors often made extended trips to Guam and Palau, where they quarried stone disks (stone money), which were also of value in the ceremonial exchanges of Yap. These stones were not technically trade items, since they had no value outside the Yap islands, yet they were a special-purpose money that was very important in the internal relationships and political struggles in Yap.