NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Job Vacancies and Immigration: Evidence from Pre- and Post-Mariel Miami

Jason Anastasopoulos, George J. Borjas, Gavin G. Cook, Michael Lachanski

NBER Working Paper No. 24580
Issued in May 2018
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

How does immigration affect labor market opportunities in a receiving country? This paper contributes to the voluminous literature by reporting findings from a new (but very old) data set. Beginning in 1951, the Conference Board constructed a monthly job vacancy index by counting the number of help-wanted ads published in local newspapers in 51 metropolitan areas. We use the Help-Wanted Index (HWI) to document how immigration changes the number of job vacancies in the affected labor markets. Our analysis begins by revisiting the Mariel episode. The data reveal a marked decrease in Miami’s HWI relative to many alternative control groups in the first 4 or 5 years after Mariel, followed by recovery afterwards. We find a similar initial decline in the number of job vacancies after two other supply shocks that hit Miami over the past few decades: the initial wave of Cuban refugees in the early 1960s, as well as the 1995 refugees who were initially detoured to Guantanamo Bay. We also look beyond Miami and estimate the generic spatial correlations that dominate the literature, correlating changes in the HWI with immigration across metropolitan areas. These correlations consistently indicate that more immigration is associated with fewer job vacancies. The trends in the HWI seem to most strongly reflect changing labor market conditions for low-skill workers (in terms of both wages and employment), and a companion textual analysis of help-wanted ads in Miami before and after the Mariel supply shock suggests a slight decline in the relative number of low-skill job vacancies.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24580

 
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