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Immigrant Settlement and Employment Suburbanization: Is There a Spatial Mismatch?

Cathy Yang Liu and Gary Painter
Two significant trends have occurred in urban areas across the United States during the past decades: immigration and the decentralization of employment. While each trend has been investigated by research, the magnitude of spatial disparity between immigrant settlement patterns and employment location and its change over time has received much less attention. Using a sample of the 60 largest immigrant metropolitan areas, this study uses a Spatial Mismatch Index (Martin, 2001) and regression methods to address this question over the period 1980 - 2000. Results indicate immigrants are more spatially mismatched with job opportunities than the white population, but less so than the black population. We find that job growth occurred close to where the native-born whites concentrate, and away from immigrants and other minority populations. However, immigrants residential location patterns shifted towards employment opportunities and was able to offset the otherwise enlarging spatial disparity.