Discussion paper

Geographic labour mobility: issues paper

11 Jul 2013

The Australian Government has asked the Commission to assess geographic labour mobility within Australia and its role in a well-functioning labour market (attachment A). Matters on which the Commission has been asked to report include:

• patterns of geographic labour mobility in Australia, the implications of structural, demographic and technological developments and key determinants of mobility

• impediments and enablers of mobility and their effect on the ability to meet Australia’s continually changing workforce and employment needs

• the economy-wide impacts of reducing any impediments

• existing strategies by governments and businesses that affect geographic labour mobility and possible options to enable further mobility.

Geographic labour mobility is one element of a flexible labour market. It is an important mechanism for adjusting to labour demand shocks (such as factory closures), seasonal variations in labour supply, and to broader structural changes in the economy. By enabling labour to move to its best use across different regions of Australia (including outer metropolitan and non-metropolitan locations), it can alleviate labour shortages and regional disparities in labour market conditions, such as high levels of unemployment, and increase skills utilisation, earnings and community wellbeing.

At a basic theoretical level, shifts in regional labour supply or labour demand will lead to changes in wages and employment, which will affect an individual’s incentives to work in a given region versus another. Yet, it is not just economic incentives that determine regional labour supply. In deciding where to live and work, people weigh up a complex range of costs and benefits. These costs and benefits are affected by a person’s individual characteristics and circumstances (such as age and family considerations), a range of environmental, economic and social factors, and the actions of businesses and governments.

Geographic labour mobility is changing with advances in transport and communication technologies, and demographic and structural changes are also influencing where, how and when we work.

In assessing geographic labour mobility within Australia, the Commission will take account of the welfare of the community as a whole. The Commission seeks public input into the study and will consult widely with stakeholders, drawing on input from participants through consultations, written submissions and roundtables.

Initial submissions are due by Wednesday 21 August 2013. Opportunity for further comment will be sought upon release of the draft report, which is expected to be released in mid December 2013.

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Subject Areas
Geographic Coverage