Pethokoukis, Economics, U.S. Economy

The role of long commute times in raising unemployment

Credit: New York Times

Credit: New York Times

A new study on income mobility, which got a big New York Times write up, shows big geographic differences in the ability to rise to the top 20% from the bottom 20%. The cities with the highest mobility are Information Age innovation hubs — San Francisco, San Jose – while the cities with the lowest mobility are former industrial powerhouses — Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit. But at the very bottom was Atlanta, the capital of the New South. The study found that areas “in which low income individuals were residentially segregated from middle income individuals were also particularly likely to have low rates of upward mobility.”

And in Atlanta, that segregation may be partially the result of bad traffic and weak public transit: from the NYT:

The low-income neighborhoods here often stretch for miles, with rows of houses and low-slung apartments, interrupted by the occasional strip mall, and lacking much in the way of good-paying jobs. This geography appears to play a major role in making Atlanta one of the metropolitan areas where it is most difficult for lower-income households to rise into the middle class and beyond, according to a new study that other researchers are calling the most detailed portrait yet of income mobility in the United States.

The comparison of metropolitan areas allows researchers to consider local factors that previous mobility studies could not — including a region’s geography. And in Atlanta, the most common lament seems to be precisely that concentrated poverty, extensive traffic, and a weak public-transit system make it difficult to get to the job opportunities.

As it happens, another new study looks at the issue of commute times and unemployment as a way of explaining some of the unemployment gap between African immigrants in France and natives, with application to America:

The unemployment rate in France is roughly six percentage points higher for African immigrants than for natives. Why? This column argues that the explanation is spatial: recent immigrants tend to have much longer commute times. Research suggests that in the region of 20% of the employment gap between the French minority and the French majority can be put down to commute times, but more research is needed, especially in France where research into the ethnic unemployment gap is scarce. …

It appears that the different outcomes across ethnic groups in the housing market are less due to the minority receiving fewer housing offers, than to the minority receiving fewer good offers. That is, while the probability of housing offers can be the same for the minority and the majority, offers to the minority are for dwellings which are located farther away from jobs. This result is consistent with other papers on the French housing market emphasising a substantial degree of spatial mismatch and rising segregration (Bouvard et al. 2009).2

In the US, spatial factors also seem to play a role, and explain 1 to 1.5 percentage points of the difference in unemployment rates between black people and white people. However, this corresponds to only 10 to 17.5% of the total racial unemployment-rate gap because there is a larger absolute difference in unemployment rates.

8 thoughts on “The role of long commute times in raising unemployment

  1. The study found that areas “in which low income individuals were residentially segregated from middle income individuals were also particularly likely to have low rates of upward mobility.”

    did anyone think that maybe that’s the reason for the “segregation”? About as shit stupid as a “study” in a a tulsa, ok paper that stated poverty revolves around section 8 housing. BULLSHIT………..they’re already poor so obviously the poor tend to live with the poor. There is no “action” in it.

    there is a difference between poor and middle class. This article is useless and apparently chooses to not see the BLATANTLY OBVIOUS.

    gee did anyone see the segregation of the the enlightened vs the ignorant? hhmmm go figure.

    They actually needed a study for this nonsense? I hope no government grant was given for this.

    What this literally says, is THE BLATANTLY OBVIOUS. people with lesser abilities than middle class folks do not BECOME MIDDLE CLASS FOLKS. the article is a seriously poor piece of “deduction”, because it deducts nothing that the common person can’t figure out on his or her own.

    • Wow. I was going to make a similar comment, but you’ve covered all the bases. Charles Murray makes a pretty strong case that the NEW American lower class (since the 1960s) CHOOSES to remain poor by: dropping out high school, fathering children out of wedlock, refusing jobs when they are available, and increasing their welfare-based income by committing crimes. If you infect a middle class neighborhood with lower class residents, the middle class will simply move away. We spent most of the 1960s and ’70s proving that.

      • there is a reason why welfare can’t be the magical “living wage”. if it were what would be the reason to find a job faster if at all?

        the truth is found in two differently trains of economic thought

        1. bertrand russel lines of thinking says folks will just up and do what is “required” (boy there’s a slip up) to do. me here…why would one rather to do what is “required” vs what they want to do?

        2. Ludwig Von Mises ………….”the search for the lack of uneasiness”… I’m pretty sure no explanation is necessary for this one, unless you believe there is no reality while at the same time preaching about poverty lines.

      • This article seems senseless only because you’re informed and have a logical mind to comprehend the obvious. This article does not do anything else but bolster misinformed readers focused on racial discrimination and retribution for being born a certain color the ignorant ideas that they’ve a “right” to more public welfare. Again, this article does not address the actual lack of social mobility and how it matches up to previous decades of the “American Dream,” but rather in my opinion how divided this country has become due to the breaking back of the middle class. It’s the proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things.

        • As BASTIAT POINTED OUT………..the principle of “LEGAL PLUNDER” IS LOST…….

          the idea of THIS CRAP SHOULDN’T BE HAPPENING TO BEGIN WITH……..escapes the “enlightened” mind. Oh no…… two wrongs make a right.

          now everyone is in on the action………..or as Ayn Rand pointed out, in the end, everyone is exchanging christmas presents that no one wants.

        • Thomas Sowell responding to the “built in expectations” argument of a welfare administrator. I can have all sorts of “expectations” if someone else is subsidizing them, But all I know is what I can do.

  2. and when it comes to the bertrand russel idea of basic needs will be supplied UPFRONT thus folks sitting around……….somehow……will just up and do what is “required”.

    this deals with fairy tale worlds of all the labor requirement will somehow be met through voluntary action. That magical (and no explanation or system has every been describe by any anarchist ever) all the basic need labor neccesities will be met VOLUNTARILY……..

    now we’re at the point of SLAVERY…….i get to sit around “making up my mind” while you support my “needs”. people do see the CATASTROPHE in all of this I hope. Because it if were voluntary in the PURIST SENSE (AND ANARCHISM DEMAND PURITY OF REASON) then there wouldn’t be any folks just sitting around waiting for something that ironically is “required to do”…..

  3. by products might produce segregation, but are not necessarily concious actions to produce segregation.

    about as stupid as harkin from iowa talking about segregation in health care. the principle in that line of thinking is that all free market actions are actions of segregation. That you are being segregated because you can’t buy a 70′ HD television.

    I do not see much Hayek in all of this. I do not see much ludwig von mises in all of this.

    What school does this ascribe to? Just curious.

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