NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Employment in Black Urban Labor Markets: Problems and Solutions

Judith K. Hellerstein, David Neumark

NBER Working Paper No. 16986
Issued in April 2011
NBER Program(s):   LS

Blacks in the United States are poorer than whites and have much lower employment rates. “Place-based” policies seek to improve the labor markets in which blacks – especially low-income urban blacks – tend to reside. We first review the literature on spatial mismatch, which provides much of the basis for place-based policies. New evidence demonstrates an important racial dimension to spatial mismatch, and this “racial mismatch” suggests that simply creating more jobs where blacks live, or moving blacks to where jobs are located, is unlikely to make a major dent in black employment problems. We also discuss new evidence of labor market networks that are to some extent stratified by race, which may help explain racial mismatch. We then turn to evidence on place-based policies. Many of these, such as enterprise zones and Moving to Opportunity (MTO), are largely ineffective in increasing employment, likely because spatial mismatch is not the core problem facing urban blacks, and because, in the case of MTO, the role of labor market networks was weakened. Finally, we discuss policies focused on place that also target incentives and other expenditures on the residents of the targeted locations, which may do more to take advantage of labor market networks.

download in pdf format
   (230 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (230 K) or via email.

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16986

Published: Hellerstein, Judith K., and Da vid Neumark, 2012, “Employment Problems in Black Urban Labor Markets: Problems and Solutions,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Poverty, Philip N. Jefferson, Ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 164-202.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Hellerstein, McInerney, and Neumark w14201 Neighbors And Co-Workers: The Importance Of Residential Labor Market Networks
Hellerstein, Neumark, and McInerney w13161 Spatial Mismatch or Racial Mismatch?
Lang and Lehmann w17450 Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market: Theory and Empirics
Neumark w16866 Spurring Job Creation in Response to Severe Recessions: Reconsidering Hiring Credits
Notowidigdo w17167 The Incidence of Local Labor Demand Shocks
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us