The value of labour seems to be at something of a crossroads.
The earth's population grows by a quarter of a million people a day, ensuring that there are ever more people ready and able to work. By contrast the fragile state of the global economy means that fewer jobs are available, while higher standards of living are proving more expensive to maintain around the world.
As factories across Southeast Asia struggle with production, and workers demand better conditions and rates of pay it feels as if the era of cheap labour is coming to end. Simultaneously Chinese businesses are building factories in Africa, looking to utilise the next great untapped workforce.
The internet has opened up the international labour market and facilitated outsourcing in ways no-one could have imagined. Amazon's Mechanical Turk connects buyers and sellers of work and enables transactions from as little as $0.01 for the most minor of tasks. There's questionable value in this sort of exchange from both parties point of view: the buyer must question the quality of the work being supplied at such a low rate, regardless of global variations in the worth of currency; likewise the seller must recognise that in order to make any sort of living from the service that the volume of work will preclude any kind of attention to detail or worth.