Labor Intensive

Labor Intensive Meaning

Labor intensive implies those tasks which require a heavy workforce for accomplishment. In the production of goods and services, the industry is considered labour intensive if the manufacturing process relies more on human resource than machinery.

Understanding Labor Intensive

Labor Intensive simply means the production activity that requires a large amount of labor to manufacture the product or services and therefore has a higher proportion of labor input as compared to the capital input.

Technological advancement has led to lower employment of labor in certain industries because the marginal product per unit of labor has increased. This has made industries less labor-intensive. However, certain industries can never be completely mechanized due to the nature of the product of such industries.

Most developing economies are labor-intensive as it costs lesser as compared to the cost of machines. This enables such economies to undertake production, which drives their growth. From a strategic point of view, at times, even developed economies believe in outsourcing to developing economies to benefit from lower costs of productionCosts Of ProductionProduction Cost is the total capital amount that a Company spends in producing finished goods or offering specific services. You can calculate it by adding Direct Material cost, Direct Labor Cost, & Manufacturing Overhead Cost. read more. Although there are several complications of human rights violations when it comes to outsourcing as it happened in the case of Nike, however, that is not always the case.

Industries such as carpet weaving industry are renowned for the product being unique and the weaving being intricate. This is the unique selling point that fetches them at a very high price than mass-produced items

Examples of Labor Intensive Industries

Let’s discuss the nature of labor-intensive industries with examples.

Labor Intensive

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#1 – Customized Products

Products within the fashion industry are customized, and every product design is unique. Fashion Designing is, therefore, a labor-intensive industry and requires highly skilled labor. Mass-produced clothing, however, can be produced in a capital intensiveCapital IntensiveCapital intensive refers to those industries or companies that require significant upfront capital investments in machinery, plant & equipment to produce goods or services in high volumes and maintain higher levels of profit margins and return on investments. Examples include oil & gas, automobiles, real estate, metals & more manner where every item is the same and can, therefore, be produced in a mechanized fashion.

#2 – Services

Produce of professionals such as doctors, accountants, or lawyers is in the form of services and is, therefore, labor-intensive as this skill can’t be mechanized. In current times, a lot of repetitive processes are being automated even in the services industry; however, without human interaction, these services can’t be completely executed.

#3 – Research & Development

Scientific discoveries and innovations cannot completely avoid human involvement. Even with a lot of research being conducted in the field of Artificial Intelligence, human involvement is still required to understand the need of present times and the present state of technology and bridge the gap between the two.

#4 – Real Estate Development

Most of the construction work is labor-intensive, whether in developed or developing economies. The cost of newer technologies such as 3D printing in such an industry is so high that not all economies can afford it. And even with the mechanization of most of the equipment, such as cranes and forklifts, human involvement is indispensable. Machines act as tools and reduce the amount of labor required; however, they can’t eliminate the use of labor.

#5 – Agriculture

The labor intensity in the agricultural sector is a barometer on the level of development in an economy. Most underdeveloped and developing economies have high labor intensity. As the economies become more and more mechanized or industrialized, there is a structural shift in the quantum of labor involved in agriculture, reducing the labor intensity in this sector.


There are several limitations of the labor-intensive are as follows:

  • Lower Output: Due to the limitations of the speed of a human being as compared to a machine, the level of output is lower than that of the mechanized industry. Therefore the supply lags the demand, and the consumers switch to substitutes.
  • Lower Turnover: As labor-intensive work requires a lot of hard work, the prices set for such products are quite high and therefore is not affordable by all kinds of consumers. Examples could be designer clothing. Consequently, this results in lower turnover.
  • Unsatisfied Demand: As the product is unique, reproducing identical goods is not always possible, the consumers need to settle for slightly differentiated products and that may not always lead to some level of satisfaction and may even lead to a loss of certain demand, where the consumer is not in favor of compromise.
  • Quality Standards: Human error cannot be eliminated, and therefore the quality of produce suffers. Mechanized products are standardized, and consequently, the quality standards are maintained.

This article has been a guide to what is labor intensive, and its meaning. Here we discuss how labor intensive industries work along with examples and limitations. You can more about finance from the following articles –