Reassessing Recruitment Costs in a Changing World of Labor Migration

Kate Hooper
Date of Publication: 
November, 2022
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

Migrant laborers must absorb costs that often threaten their well-being – a problem that has intensified since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These costs are not simply recruitment and travel fees but also include medical expenses, quarantine costs, increases in wage theft, and debt incurred by lost hours or lost jobs. A Migration Policy Institute policy brief by Kate Hooper entitled “Reassessing Recruitment Costs in a Changing World of Labor Migration” shows how the financial burden can come in many forms, despite government and private-sector efforts to minimize these costs. By conducting interviews and reviewing the existing literature, Hooper finds that the range of expenses immigrant workers can end up paying when they are recruited for jobs abroad has only increased throughout the pandemic. In addition to recruitment fees, documentation, travel, medical expenses and loss of earnings, immigrants now have to face costs for COVID-19 testing, quarantine, border closures and travel restrictions. This burden is especially great for those in low- and middle-skilled sectors and more informal employment; these workers often find themselves contending with job losses, pay cuts and wage theft after they arrive at their destination. Hooper therefore argues that governments need to broaden the definition of “recruitment costs” and make efforts to lessen their impact. She argues that not only should there be improved information on recruitment costs in the data, but also that stakeholders must address the lack of protections for migrant workers. In addition, policymakers should consider access to contingency funds should crises like the pandemic arise again in the future. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Hooper, K. (2022, November). Reassessing Recruitment Costs in a Changing World of Labor Migration. Migration Policy Institute.