Labor mobility or worker mobility is the geographical and occupational movement of workers. Worker mobility is best gauged by the lack of impediments to such mobility. Impediments to mobility are easily divided into two distinct classes with one being personal and the other being systemic. Personal impediments include physical location, and physical and mental ability. The systemic impediments include educational opportunities as well as various laws and political contrivances and even barriers and hurdles arising from historical happenstance.
International Labor Mobility
International labor mobility is the movement of workers between countries. It is an example of an international factor movement.The movement of laborers is based on a difference in resources between countries. According to economists, Over time the migration of labor should have an equalizing effect on wages, with workers in the same industries garnering the same wage.
Common impediments to worker mobility
In the United States:
- Minimum wage laws that prevent unskilled workers, willing to work below minimum, from entering workforce.
- Absence of "right to work" laws / presence of forced unionization
- Inadequate infrastructure and housing to accommodate fast moving changes in labor demand
- Binding ties to a geographic location. e.g.: a worker's inability to sell his home for a price that covers his existing mortgage
- A worker's lack of education and/or access to education.
- Government mandates on industry labor standards. e.g.: license requirements to cut hair or give a massage.
- Unemployment benefits that disincentivize workers from accepting employment at market clearing wage rates.
In the Asia-Pacific Region, some common reasons workers are immobile include:
- national and regional differences in the qualifications necessary for different jobs
- a lack of standards for skills and vocations
- discrimination based on citizenship or national origin
Other impediments to worker mobility:
- discrimination based on social class
- systems of economics and property rights that impede workers.
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