Geographic labour mobility helping the economy

Geographic labour mobility is helping the economy adjust to major structural change, according to a research report released by the Productivity Commission.

Generally people are moving to areas with better employment and income prospects, and employers are using a range of sources to attract employees with the required skills.

In addition to permanent relocation, alternate forms of mobility are offering considerable flexibility in the labour market. The increased use of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) practices and temporary immigration have been critical to meeting peaks in labour demand in many parts of the country.

The study contributes to understanding of why people move.

Commissioner Alison McClelland said life events and family circumstances appeared to be the most important factors in decisions to relocate for work for individuals.

“Factors related to housing, employment, local infrastructure and a person’s level of education also play a prominent role.”

At an aggregate level, a region’s size, distance from other regions, and economic opportunities are the main determinants of geographic labour mobility.

The research report also references the Digital Work Hubs: An Activation Framework for South East Queensland report, undertaken by five RDAs in South East Queensland, and discusses teleworking practices, with reference to coworking and smart work centre trends.

While the study found some problems, particularly the persistence of high unemployment in some regions, there are no simple levers that governments can use to influence where people live and work.

The Commission’s recommendations are mostly aimed at broader structural reform, which will also assist employment mobility:

  • Alteration of the tax mix as it affects housing
  • Improving the efficiency of land-use planning and land release
  • Reviewing rent assistance and the supply of affordable rental properties available to people on low incomes
  • Improving programs that assist unemployed people to find employment in other locations
  • Restoring failing efforts to reduce occupational licencing barriers to mobility.

Download the report into Geographic Labour Mobility.

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