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Spatial Mismatch and Labor Market Segmentation for African-American and Latina Women

Sara McLafferty and Valerie Preston
Economic Geography
Vol. 68, No. 4, Local Labor Markets (Oct., 1992), pp. 406-431
Published by: Clark University
DOI: 10.2307/144026
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/144026
Page Count: 26
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Spatial Mismatch and Labor Market Segmentation for African-American and Latina Women
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Abstract

The economic well-being of African-Americans and Latinos in the United States depends critically on women's employment and earnings. Yet women's economic roles are ignored in recent literature about the effects of economic restructuring on well-being: the spatial mismatch/urban underclass debates. Gender differences in labor market segmentation are central to the spatial mismatch debate, both in their effects on wages, occupation, and transportation access and their links to place-based variation in commuting and spatial access to employment. Using 1980 PUMS data for northern New Jersey, we examine the spatial mismatch between jobs and residences for employed black and Hispanic women and the links between labor market segmentation and spatial mismatch. Minority women have poorer spatial access to jobs than white women, as indicated by their longer commuting times and less-localized labor markets, but they typically have better spatial access to employment than minority men. The mismatch is greatest for African-American women, reflecting their heavy reliance on mass transit and poor spatial access to employment in all economic sectors. Latina workers have more localized labor markets, but also the lowest earnings of any group. For Latinas, our findings suggest that the primary problem is not spatial access to employment but rather a lack of access to well-paying jobs. These differences in mismatch reflect the combined effects of gender- and race-based segmentation and spatial access to employment and transportation.

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