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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Industrial Division of Labor Among Immigrants and Internal Migrants to the Los Angeles Economy


Between 1985-90, the Los Angeles CMSA received about 400,000 working immigrants and about 575,000 working native in-migrants. We subdivide these native- and foreign-born migrants by national origin and race to examine the processes that channel recent arrivals into different industrial sectors. Our analysis extends previous research on migrant employment and the ethnic division of labor in two ways. We compare the employment of recent arrivals to residents for several groups across a large, diverse, regional economy. We also consider the role educational qualifications play in the allocation of different migrant groups to jobs. The results show that both native- and foreign-born groups channel into particular industrial sectors. The strength of group channeling, however, varies by national origin and ethnic group. For example, we find that native born white in-migrants typically take jobs based on their educational qualifications, whereas ethnic group effects dominate the choice of industry of recent Korean immigrants. Overall, white and black native-born residents and Filipino residents have employment distributions most dissimilar from recently arrived migrant groups other than their own. The employment distribution of Mexican residents is most like that of Mexican newcomers, but also quite similar to other recently arrived groups. The analysis suggests Mexican residents experience more labor market competition from migrants than other groups.

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