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:

  • Inadequate social safety nets. The average job hunt can take anywhere from 4 to 8 months in the US;[4][5] most experts agree that workers who wish to quit should financially prepare with at least 6 months worth of living expenses.[6][7] However, 69% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings,[8] which is less than 1 month worth of living expenses in the US.[9] The risk of running out of savings before a replacement job is found is a major disincentive to switching jobs.
  • "Right-to-work" laws which reduce worker bargaining power, resulting in lower wages and less worker benefits,[10] which compound the problem above.
  • Inadequate infrastructure and housing to accommodate fast-moving changes in labor demand[11]
  • Binding ties to a geographic location. e.g., a worker's inability to sell his home for a price that covers his existing mortgage[12]
  • A worker's lack of education or access to education[12]

In the Asia-Pacific:[13]

  • 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. ^ "It takes 16 weeks to get a new job - Workopolis". Workopolis. 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  5. ^ "Table A-12. Unemployed persons by duration of unemployment". Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  6. ^ "How Much Do I Need to Save Before Quitting My Job? - GoGirl Finance". GoGirl Finance. 2015-03-30. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  7. ^ "How To Financially Prepare To Quit Your Job". Money Under 30. 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  8. ^ "69% of Americans Have Less Than $1,000 in Savings | GOBankingRates". GOBankingRates. 2016-09-19. Retrieved 2017-04-04. 
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-04-04.  External link in |title= (help)
  10. ^ ""Right-to-Work" States Still Have Lower Wages". Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  11. ^ "North Dakota's Oil Boom is a Blessing and a Curse". Governing Magazine. 
  12. ^ a b Krugman, Paul (2009). Macroeconomics. Worth. ISBN 0-7167-7161-6. 
  13. ^ Jurado, Gonzalo. "Labor Mobility Issues in the Asia-Pacific Region" (PDF). Philippine APEC Study Center Network. 

External links[edit]