restricted access The Emergence of Ethnic Niches in New Immigrant Destinations: An Examination of Atlanta's Labor Market, 1980-1990

The entry of foreign-born workers into U.S. metropolitan labor markets was associated with a rise in ethnic niches, i.e., occupations dominated by ethnic workers. Our study examines the emergence of ethnic niches in the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area, whose foreign-born population began to increase in the 1980s. Using the 1980 and 1990 PUMS data, we first develop an odds ratio to identify the occupational niches associated with different ethnic groups, and then examine the relative earnings of niche workers. We then compare the determinants of job earnings for niche and nonniche jobs using regression analysis. Our findings reveal a sharp ethnic segmentation of the labor force as early as in 1980. The economic advantages of niche employment vary by ethnic group, with the skill level of the job and the extent of ethnic social capital being important factors. Overall, the economic implications of niche employment for foreign-born and native-born workers were strongly contingent on the particular nature of Atlanta's economic growth in the past few decades.