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Abstract

In 1972, processed food exports used more skilled labor per unit of output than processed food imports. By 1992, this situation had reversed and the skill intensity of processed food trade had switched. Higher meat and poultry exports compared with other processed food trade could explain this switch in skill intensity. The growth in meat trade paralleled an urban-to-rural shift in the meat packing and poultry processing sectors. Because rural areas have a greater share of low-skilled workers in their labor force and have fewer employment opportunities for their workers, this may appear to be a win-win situation for rural areas. However, the jobs slaughtering livestock and processing meat often do not appeal to domestic rural workers. When sufficient domestic rural workers are not available, accommodating a larger share of commuter and migrant workers has challenged some rural communities that host meat processing plants.

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