When Work Moves: Job Suburbanization and Black Employment
This paper presents evidence that job suburbanization caused significant declines in black employment from 1970 to 2000. I document that, conditional on detailed job characteristics, blacks are less likely than whites to work in suburban establishments, and this spatial segregation is stable over time despite widespread decentralization of population and jobs. This stable segregation suggests job suburbanization may have increased black-white labor market inequality. Exploiting variation across metropolitan areas, I find that job suburbanization is associated with substantial declines in black employment rates relative to white employment rates. Evidence from nationally planned highway infrastructure corroborates a causal interpretation.
I thank David Autor, Will Dobbie, Ben Feigenberg, Amy Finkelstein, Heidi Williams, Seth Zimmerman, and seminar participants at Princeton, Chicago Harris, Ohio State, Upjohn Institute, the 2015 EALE-SOLE conference, the 2012 AEA Summer Pipeline Conference, and MIT labor lunch for comments. I thank Nathaniel Baum-Snow for providing access to highway data compiled for Baum-Snow (2007). I also thank Ron Edwards, Bliss Cartwright, and Georgianna Hawkins of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for facilitating access to the EEO-1 form data and providing helpful feedback. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.