MOBILITY OF LABOUR. Definition of mobility of labour. Mobility of labour may be defined as the ease with labour can move from one geographical area to another or from one occupation to another.

Labour is said to be mobile when workers will find it easy to move from one geographical area to another or to change jobs.


There are two major types of mobility of labour. Which are:

  • Geographical mobility of labour: Geographical mobility of labour refers to the ease with which workers or labour can move from one geographical location to another in pursuing the same occupation or changing occupations.

When a worker moves from one town to another, e.g. from Port harcourt to Jos, without changing the job he is doing, we say that he has moved geographically.

An accountant in Port harcourt may move Jos to continue to work as an accountant. Take note that it is the movement of labour or worker from one area (e.g. Port harcourt) to another area (e.g. Jos) that is called geographical mobility of labour.

Factors affecting geographical mobility of labour 

  1. Cost of transportation: A worker maybe able to move from one location to another if the cost of transportation is low. But when it is high, movement becomes difficult.

  • Accommodation problems: Workers may not be able to move to new location where there are accommodation problems.

  • Climatic conditions: Members may move from where climatic conditions are unfavorable to areas where there are favorable climatic conditions.

Family and cultural ties: Members of a family or culture may find it difficult to move from one location to another because of strong family or cultural ties.  

  • Government policies: Certain government policies, e.g. the establishment of National Youth Service Corps (N.Y.S.C), help to deliberately move labour to different states other than their states of origin.

  • Social and economic infrastructures: The availability of social and economic infrastructures, e.g. electricity, pipe borne water and telecommunication do encourage labour to move to places where these infrastructures are available.

  • Discrimination: labour may not be able to move if there is the possibility of discrimination against them in their destination.

  • Language barrier: when labour finds it difficult to speak the language of a particular area, it becomes very difficult for them to move to such area.

Occupational mobility of labour

Occupational mobility of labour refers to the case with which a worker or labour moves from one occupation or job to another. When a musician becomes a footballer, he has changed his occupation.

Factors affecting or obstacles to mobility of labour

  1. Cost and length of training: Some professions are costly to train in in terms of time and money, e.g. the medical profession.

  1. Ability or aptitude: Some jobs require natural ability or talents and those that are not gifted cannot fit into such jobs e.g. musician.

  • Employment prospect/age: After a certain age (e.g. 45 years) employer will not engage such people. They have poor prospect for an employer as they only have short working life.

  • Trade union/professional association restrictions: Some professional bodies (e.g. accounting, law) require certain qualifications before admission.

  • Personal reasons: Personal preference for a particular job and dislike for available alternatives may discourage movements.
  • Families and friendly ties: friendly ties at times make it difficult for some people to change jobs. Also, some families are known to be associated with certain profession, and it will become difficult for a family member to pull out of that profession.

  • Political instability/religion: When there is political instability or religious crises, it will be very difficult for labour to move
  • Wage rate: Labour will move if there is a wide margin in salaries but if it is low, labour may not move.

  • Condition of service: Apart from salary the conditions of service in a working places e.g. bonuses, overtime, staff bus and car and housing loan when present, will encourage labour not to move.
  1. Discrimination: There may be discrimination of sex, colour, age and religion. This can affect occupational mobility of labour.


Factors affecting mobility of labour include those of geographical and occupational mobility of labour discussed above.

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