Labor mobility

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Labor or worker mobility is the geographical and occupational movement of workers.[1] 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.

Increasing and maintaining a high level of labor mobility allows a more efficient allocation of resources. Labor mobility has proven to be a forceful driver of innovations.[2]

International labor mobility[edit]

International labor mobility is the movement of workers between countries.[3] It is an example of an international factor movement.The movement of laborers is based on a difference in resources between countries.[3] 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.

Impediments to worker mobility[edit]

In the United States:

  • Minimum wage laws that prevent unskilled workers, willing to work below minimum, from entering workforce[4]
  • Absence of "right-to-work" laws / presence of forced unionization[5]
  • Inadequate infrastructure and housing to accommodate fast-moving changes in labor demand[6]
  • Binding ties to a geographic location. e.g., a worker's inability to sell his home for a price that covers his existing mortgage[4]
  • A worker's lack of education or access to education[4]
  • Government mandates on industry labor standards. e.g., license requirements to cut hair or give a massage[4]
  • Unemployment benefits that disincentivize workers from accepting employment at market-clearing wages[4]

In the Asia-Pacific:[7]

  • 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:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Long, Jason. "Labour Mobility" (PDF). Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  2. ^ A Legal Bridge Spanning 100 Years: From the Gold Mines of El Dorado to the 'Golden' Startups of Silicon Valley By Gregory Gromov, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Krugman, Paul (2005). International Economics: Theory and Policy. Daryl Fox. ISBN 0-201-77037-7. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Krugman, Paul (2009). Macroeconomics. Worth. ISBN 0-7167-7161-6. 
  5. ^ Bennett, James (1995). A higher standard of living in Right-to-Work states. National Institute for Labor Relations Research. 
  6. ^ "North Dakota's Oil Boom is a Blessing and a Curse". Governing Magazine. 
  7. ^ Jurado, Gonzalo. "Labor Mobility Issues in the Asia-Pacific Region" (PDF). Philippine APEC Study Center Network. 

External links[edit]