Variable: Labor

Labor has many definitions; in the human ecosystem framework, it is defined as the individual's capacity for work (economists sometimes label this as labor power; Thompson 1983). Applied to raw materials and machinery, labor can create commodities and is a critical socioeconomic resource. There are many measures: labor time needed to create a unit of economic value (hrs/$100 value), labor value (measured in real wages), labor output (units of production per worker or hour labor), or surplus labor capacity (unemployment rates) are examples.

Labor is critical to human ecosystems in terms of both of its energy and information content. That is, both relatively unskilled yet physically demanding labor (such as harvesting crops) and specialized, sedentary skills (such as resource planning or stockbroking) have economic and sociocultural importance. Changes in labor, such as increased unemployment, can impact a variety of social institutions and hierarchies from health care to income distribution.

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