What is 'Unskilled Labor'

Unskilled labor is a segment of the workforce associated with a limited skill set or minimal economic value for the work performed. Unskilled labor is generally characterized by a lower educational attainment, such as a high school diploma, GED or lack thereof, and typically results in smaller wages. Work that requires no specific education level or specialized experience is often available to the unskilled labor force.

BREAKING DOWN 'Unskilled Labor'

Unskilled labor provides a significant part of the overall labor market, performing daily production tasks that do not depend on technical abilities or skills. Menial or repetitive tasks are typical unskilled labor positions. Jobs that can be fully learned in less than 30 days often fall into the unskilled labor category.

Unskilled labor can be used to identify both the type of work being completed as well as the employee completing it. In the case of it identifying the tasks, they are generally menial and repetitive in nature, requiring very little, if any, education or training to be completed successfully. These positions are often low paying and considered entry-level.

When the term is used to describe a person or employee completing the tasks, unskilled labor refers to the lack of education or experience the person may have. Often, this lack of skills prevents them from participating in anything but the most basic of positions, requiring very little training to complete the assigned tasks.

Related Terms

A term similar in nature to unskilled labor is low-skilled labor. While low-skilled labor also denotes a lack of education or training necessary in order to become employed, it may be seen as slightly different from unskilled labor depending on the context. It may require basic skills training for the work to be completed successfully. Low-skilled positions may include entry-level positions within food service and retail environments.

Semiskilled, or midskilled, labor involves those that persons or positions where a level of basic knowledge, experience or training is required to complete the tasks successfully. Generally, the skills required are not overly specialized but do have more complexity than unskilled positions. Examples of semiskilled positions may include delivery drivers, customer service representatives and entry-level administrative assistants.

Skilled labor refers to persons or positions requiring a specialized skill set in order to complete some of the assigned tasks. Skilled labor may have more advanced education, training or experience. Positions in this category can include both white- and blue-collar professions ranging from electricians and lab technicians to lawyers and computer programmers. Certain semiskilled jobs, such as administrative assistants, can require advanced skill sets that lead them to be categorized as skilled instead of semiskilled positions.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Demand For Labor

    The demand for labor describes the amount and market wage rate ...
  2. Soft Skills

    Soft skills are the character traits and interpersonal skills ...
  3. Underemployment

    A measure of employment and labor utilization in the economy ...
  4. Department Of Labor (DOL)

    The Department of Labor is a cabinet-level U.S. agency responsible ...
  5. One-Third Rule

    A rule of thumb that estimates the change in labor productivity ...
  6. Labor Intensive

    A process or industry that requires a large amount of labor to ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Most Valuable Career Skills of 2017

    Having the right career skills can make you more competitive and successful, whatever your job or field. Here are those most prized by employers in 2017.
  2. Insights

    The Economics of Labor Mobility

    Loosening labor restrictions, which allows for geographic and occupational mobility, has both good and bad effects on a country and its workers.
  3. Personal Finance

    MBA Skills: What Employers Are Really Looking For

    To make sure that you have what recruiters want, take a look at Bloomberg's annual job skills survey.
  4. Tech

    Will Your Job Get Eaten by Automation?

    With the rapid growth of technology, it has been widely contested whether automation will start to replace jobs.
  5. Personal Finance

    Sell Your Skills, Not Your Degree

    If you want to switch careers, you may not have to go back to school to do it.
  6. Insights

    Jobless Growth: Are You Prepared?

    Economic growth doesn't always mean employment growth. Learn about how the jobless growth economy affects workers and investors.
  7. Personal Finance

    The 9 Worst Career Choices Right Now

    These careers are on the way out; here are some alternatives you can switch to.
  8. Personal Finance

    Accountant: Job Description & Average Salary

    Discover what the job description of an accountant entails, along with education and training, salary and skills necessary for success.
  9. Small Business

    The Importance Of Work Experience For Students

    Issues facing unemployed graduates stretch far beyond an ailing economy. Use your work experience during school to ensure a better career.
  10. Financial Advisor

    How Labor Force Participation Rate Affects U.S. Unemployment

    While a falling unemployment rate sounds like a good thing, it can actually be indicative of people leaving the labor force because they can't find a job.
RELATED FAQS
  1. How are labor demand forecasts made in human resources planning?

    Discover how human resource planning might be used to estimate the correct demand for labor in a given market, both qualitatively ... Read Answer >>
  2. How are labor and capital affected by the balance of trade?

    Learn about the impact of international trade on labor, capital and the balance of trade, and see how the current account ... Read Answer >>
  3. How do companies balance labor supply and demand in human resources planning?

    Find out what it means for a company to balance labor supply and demand, and learn how human resources planning can strategically ... Read Answer >>
  4. How do interpersonal skills influence a business culture?

    Interpersonal skills are vital to business culture because they determine not only how a person interacts with others, but ... Read Answer >>
  5. What are the economic impacts of specialization?

    Read about the economic impacts of specialization and the division of labor, and see why individuals, firms and even countries ... Read Answer >>
  6. What skills do I need to become a Portfolio Analyst?

    Learn what a portfolio analyst does and some examples of skills and knowledge one must possess to become a successful portfolio ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center