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Using the American Community Survey between 2005 and 2017, this article explores the evidence for potential migration constraints by comparing distributions of people and jobs across race and education. Using the Delta Index of dissimilarity, it illustrates a greater distributional mismatch between workers and jobs among racial minorities, relative to White non-Hispanics. This mismatch suggests greater migration constraints among racial minorities.

Key findings:

  1. We determine that Black and Hispanic workers are more geographically mismatched with their job opportunities than Whites, suggesting racial minorities are more constrained in chasing better economic outcomes.
  2. Although higher education significantly improves the geographic mismatch among Whites, this is not the case for either Blacks or Hispanics.

Center Affiliation: Center for Human Capital Studies

JEL classification: J61, J15, J18

Key words: racial labor market disparities, migration costs, Delta Index, social costs, place-based, people-based, mismatch

https://doi.org/10.29338/ph2020-06Off-site link

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Policy Hub authors thank Ellyn Terry for research assistance and also David Altig, Stuart Andreason, Melissa Banzhaf, Christopher Cunningham, Nikolay Gospodinov, Benjamin Griffy, Jordan Herring, Osborne Jackson, Christos Makridis, Brent Meyer, Tom Mroz, Melinda Pitts, John Robertson, and participants of the economics seminar series at Lafayette College, the Federal Reserve System’s regional economics conference, and the Atlanta Fed and Georgia State University’s Brownbag series for helpful comments and suggestions. The views expressed here are the authors' and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors’ responsibility. Sign up for email updates at frbatlanta.org/research/publications/policy-hub.