Spatial factors and the employment of blacks at the firm level
H. J. Holzer
K. R. Ihlanfeldt
In this paper we use data from a new survey of over 3,000 employers in four major metropolitan areas to investigate the determinants of black employment and wages at the firm level. We focus specifically on two factors that are likely to influence the spatial distribution of black employment: the proximity of firms to the residential locations of various racial groups and to public transit. We also consider the effects on black employment of other factors, such as employers' skill needs and some likely determinants of their preferences across groups. Our main finding is that employers' proximity to black residences and to public transit increases the likelihood that they will hire black employees. This is true even when we include detailed controls for the skills needed by employers and also for the race of customers and of those responsible for hiring, which independently affect the levels of black employment at firms. Proximity to public transit and especially to black residences accounts for major portions of the higher black employment rates at central-city than suburban firms. The residential effects are relatively strong for employers who recruit through informal methods and weak for those who use newspapers, thus suggesting that information may play a role in the distance effects. We also find some evidence that employers' proximity to black residential populations results in lower wages for workers.
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