HAVANA — Cuba announced Monday it will cast off at least half a million state employees by mid-2011 and reduce restrictions on private enterprise to help them find new jobs – the most dramatic step yet in President Raul Castro’s push to radically remake employment on the communist-run island.

Castro suggested during a nationally televised address on Easter Sunday that as many 1 million Cuban workers – about one in five – may be redundant. But the government had not previously laid out specific plans to reduce the work force.

The layoffs will continue through the first half of next year, says the nearly 3 million-strong Cuban Workers Confederation — the only labor union allowed by the government.

To soften the blow, it said the government would increase private-sector job opportunities, including allowing more Cubans to become self-employed, forming cooperatives run by employees rather than government administrators and increasing private control of state land, businesses and infrastructure through long-term leases.

The statement, which was published in state-controlled newspapers and read on government-run radio and television, said because of the sheer number of workers involved, the layoffs would come slowly, but would affect all sectors.

It did not say which parts of the economy would be retooled to allow more private enterprise.

In August, Castro warned that layoffs would be coming and said Cuba would expand private enterprise on a small scale, increasing the number of jobs where Cubans could go into business for themselves.

Still, Monday’s announcement shows his government is moving to pare back state payrolls far faster than expected.

“Our state cannot and should not continue supporting businesses, production entities and services with inflated payrolls,” the union said, “and losses that hurt our economy are ultimately counterproductive, creating bad habits and distorting worker conduct.”

It added that Cuba would overhaul its labor structure and salary systems since it will “no longer be possible to apply a formula of protecting and subsidizing salaries on an unlimited basis to workers.”

Currently, the state employs 95 percent of the official work force. In exchange for low salaries, the state provides free education and health care and heavily subsidizes housing, transportation and basic food.