Saturation and Exodus: How Immigrant Job Networks Are Spreading down the U.S. Urban System

James R. Elliott, Tulane University

Explanations for spatial and economic concentration of immigrants in gateway cities emphasize that the causes are cumulative: earlier settlers multiply in number as friends and family join them, begetting more local ties that stimulate and facilitate still further in-migration and concentration in the gateway region. What happens, however, when this process reaches saturation? Increasingly, the answer lies in outmigration to other U.S. cities. The result is the rise of America’s newest frontier, as immigrants pioneer their way out of gateway centers into new destinations throughout the national settlement system. This paper uses census data to examine how this dispersal has grown since 1965 and how it is organized economically, focusing on the extent to which local conditions of saturation are promoting spatial reproduction of local ethnic divisions of labor in New York and Los Angeles to places further down the national urban hierarchy, thereby challenging notions of spatial assimilation.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Migration, Income, Employment, Neighborhoods and Residential Context