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Geographical barriers to employment for American-born and immigrant workers

Citation: Urban Studies, 1998, 35, 3, 529-545

Residential segregation interacts with the changing geography of transport and employment in urban areas to restrict access to workplaces. A growing literature suggests that spatial barriers limit the job opportunities of minority women and men in American cities. This study examines the nature and extent of geographical barriers for minority immigrants by analysing their commuting behaviour. Information from the 1990 Public Use Microdata Sample is used to compare the commuting times of immigrant and native-born minority women in central parts of the New York Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area. The effects of occupation, wages, family responsibilities, transport mode, year of arrival in the US and English fluency on commuting time are assessed separately for immigrant men and women. The results suggest that race/ethnic group has a larger influence on commuting times than place of birth. However, white immigrant women’s employment is less restricted by geographical barriers than that of minority immigrants. The findings confirm the diversity of immigrant women’s experiences, reinforcing the need to consider the interrelations among gender, race and class when examining urban labour markets.

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