The Rise Of The Blue-Collar Noncompete : The Indicator from Planet Money Traditionally, noncompete clauses have been reserved for whiter collar professionals. But as the labor market tightens, employers increasingly want blue-collar workers to adhere to these agreements too.

The Rise Of The Blue-Collar Noncompete

The Rise Of The Blue-Collar Noncompete

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16: Construction laborers work on the site of a new residential building in the Hudson Yards development, August 16, 2016 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Workers in sales jobs, or those who have access to a company's trade secrets, are often asked to sign noncompete clauses as part of their employment contracts. By signing noncompetes, employees often agree — in the event they quit or are terminated — not to go and work for a competitor for a certain period of time. That way the company is protected from having the employee take intellectual property — like client lists, proprietary corporate processes, or other secret sauces — to a competitor.

Noncompetes are common in industries like banking and insurance, and they often feature in employment agreements for managers and other white-collar professionals. But as the labor market has tightened over the last few years, noncompetes are starting to show up, and to be enforced, in the contracts of all kinds of blue-collar workers, from heavy equipment operators to hairdressers.

Today on The Indicator, we look at the rise of the blue-collar noncompete: why we're seeing more of them, and what effect they have on individuals and the economy at large.

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