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My own impression is that the "labor mobility" tht used to be the feature of the US economy you describe, it is rapidly becoming only prevalent within professional and white collar workers. In this respect, the minimal unemployed worker protection and welfare benefits for the low paid are much more likely to have a more stationary effec because they are state based.

Again, while your observation of the situation in Europe may have been true in the past, the situation is turning  round, even more so with the new accession countries. Movement to cover shortages of skills is now happening, despite the attempts by some countries to restrict it. The postition should speed up considerably once the transitional arrangements for the east in some of the more protectionist markets expire. Remember the scare figure in the recent French referendum debates was the "Polish plumber", shorthand for these newly available skilled workers.

The UK fully applied the freedom of movement and work provisions from May last year, with the exception of welfare benefits. I have seen this have immediate effect as the block I live in used a contractor employing (wethink) Hungarian painters. The new digital aerial (antenna) system is being installed by contractors from Portugal who are gaining experience here so that they can get contracts for similar work back home.  

by Londonbear on Tue Jun 21st, 2005 at 04:58:08 PM EST
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