There is a pervasive economic rationale behind all forms of labour migration. The paper identifies an emergent but still quite limited body of research that engages with and explores this rationale. More specifically, it is interested in research looking at contemporary patterns and processes of migration from the perspective of employers and employment agencies. There has to date been no attempt to review employer-based research on migration or to identify emergent narratives that could help to guide future academic enquiry. The paper addresses this omission by highlighting five embryonic employer-orientated migration research themes. It begins, however, by noting some of the limitations of employer-based empirical research. These limitations, it is argued, are significant but not insurmountable and should not be used as an excuse to overlook employers' role in shaping, and often fundamentally underpinning, the demand for immigration. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.