Employment in Black Urban Labor Markets

Judith K. Hellerstein and David Neumark

in The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Poverty

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195393781
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Employment in Black Urban Labor Markets

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  • Economics
  • Labour and Demographic Economics
  • Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics



This article examines the roles of place and race in determining black employment rates in urban areas. It begins by presenting some of the basic facts on labor market problems with respect to black urban employment. It then reviews evidence on the explanations for these facts, with an eye toward understanding the potential contributions of place-based policies to ameliorating these problems. New evidence establishes an important racial dimension to spatial mismatch—termed “racial mismatch”, which suggests that simply creating more jobs where blacks live, or moving blacks to where jobs are located, is unlikely to make a major contribution to increasing black employment. Some newer policies are considered that have attempted to blend place-based policies with targeting of incentives and other expenditures on the people residing in the targeted locations. There is some evidence that these policies may have been more effective, and one reason may be that they moved beyond a pure focus on location and in so doing took advantage of labor market networks. The article concludes by discussing the potential implications of this evidence for thinking about policies to do more to reduce these labor market problems for urban blacks, as well as for addressing similar problems faced by other minority groups—including immigrants—in both the United States and other countries.

Keywords: race; black employment; urban areas; spatial mismatch; racial mismatch; labor market problems

Article.  18926 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Labour and Demographic Economics ; Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics

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