Immigrants Equilibrate Local Labor Markets: Evidence from the Great Recession

Publication Date:
Jan 2016

Authors: Brian C. Cadena, Brian K. Kovak

This paper demonstrates that low-skilled Mexican-born immigrants' location choices respond strongly to changes in local labor demand, which helps equalize spatial differences in employment outcomes for low-skilled native workers. We leverage the substantial geographic variation in labor demand during the Great Recession to identify migration responses to local shocks and find that low-skilled Mexican-born immigrants respond much more strongly than low-skilled natives. Further, Mexican mobility reduced the incidence of local demand shocks on natives, such that those living in metro areas with a substantial Mexican-born population experienced a roughly 50 percent weaker relationship between local shocks and local employment probabilities.


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