Day labor, the practice of searching for work in open-air, informal markets such as street corners or in formal temp agencies, has become an increasingly visible and important means of securing employment for a broad segment of immigrant, primarily male, displaced workers. Our understanding of day labor has been limited by regionally focused or city-based case studies, poorly constructed methodological approaches, inconsistent definitions, and little comparative research. This review discusses the emerging research on day labor, paying particular attention to the practice of day labor, including the market's origins, its contemporary development, and its hiring and wage practices. The review also provides a synopsis of informal, open-air and formal temp agency day labor practices, their spatial and organizational configurations, and an outline of the legal issues and public policies that structure, to a large degree, worker and employer relations in this industry. The review emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of contributions to the topic, including research by sociologists, anthropologists, and urban studies. Areas for future research are suggested.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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