Labor Mobility and Economic Opportunity Essays by E. Wight Bakke

By E. Wight Bakke; Philip M. Hauser et al. | Go to book overview

7. Epilogue: Social Values in Labor Mobility

GLADYS L. PALMER

The general premise of this essay is that labor mobility has social values in times of both prosperity and depression and that it is essential to the proper functioning of the labor market in a semimobilization period.1 Mobility provides the necessary flexibility in a labor force to meet changes in labor requirements in a labor market, an industry, or a plant. It gives the individual worker a wider variety of experience than is otherwise possible, and such experience has values to him, if his job disappears, if he has opportunity for advancement, or if for other reasons he wishes to change jobs. Although a factor in effective labor utilization under any conditions, the mobility of the experienced labor force is especially important in a mobilization emergency when the nation is dependent on the ability of its workers to change jobs or move to different locations to meet defense production requirements. In a period of semimobilization of indefinite duration, in which it is not feasible or desirable that man-power controls be invoked, the required changes must be met by voluntary shifts of workers.

It should be noted that, whereas there can be no mobility of labor without some turnover on jobs, there can occasionally be extensive turnover on jobs without much genuine mobility, in the sense of a major change of economic activity for the individual or a change in the distribution of employment in a labor market. This is because the ratio of gross to net changes in labor force status may be high and job shifts involving a change of employer only may outnumber other types of shifts. Occupational, industrial, and geographic shifts are usually more important for the dynamics of a labor market than changes of employer only or changes in labor force status only, and it is the

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1
Paper presented at the 1952 Spring meeting of the Industrial Relations Research Association.

-111-

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Labor Mobility and Economic Opportunity Essays by E. Wight Bakke
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • 1. Introduction 1
  • 2. Mobility in Labor Force Participation 8
  • 3. Interpreting Patterns of Labor Mobility 47
  • 4. Labor Mobility in Two Communities 68
  • 5. Manpower Mobility: Two Studies 80
  • 6. The Balkaniza Tion of Labor Markets 92
  • 7. Epilogue: Social Values in Labor Mobility 111
  • Index 117
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