Announcement

2013-14 Small Grants for Poverty Research Awarded

We are pleased to announce the winners for our 2013-2014 Small Grants for Poverty Research. All recipients will receive grants to support their research projects related to the core themes of the Center and will present at our 2015 Small Grants Conference. Congratulations!

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African Immigrants in the Low Wage Health Care Labor Market: Incorporation and Poverty
Yolanda Covington-Ward, University of Pittsburgh

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that health care support and personal care and services occupations will have the largest projected growth (34.5% and 26.8%, respectively) of all major occupation groups between 2010 and 2020. The numbers of immigrants in the health care work force are steadily growing, and about 40% of African immigrants in health care work in low wage health care support occupations. The purpose of this project is to use qualitative individual interviews with a subset of African immigrants and refugees in Pittsburgh in order to advance research on the entry, experiences, and occupational mobility of African immigrants in low wage direct care occupations.

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Prejudice and Racial Matches in Employment for Low-Skilled Workers
Jee-Yeon Lehmann, University of Houston and Timothy Bond, Purdue University

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The current national poverty rate masks great racial heterogeneity in the state of poverty in the U.S. According to the 2010 Census, 27% of blacks live below the official poverty line, nearly three times the rate for non-Hispanic whites. Non-labor market factors such as differences in family structure or geography can explain a significant portion of this disparity, yet it is difficult to ignore the role of the large and persisting racial gap in labor market outcomes. Inequality in labor market performance is especially salient for low-skilled black workers who face close to 10% lower wages and 25% longer unemployment durations compared to similar whites (Lang and Lehmann 2012). For college-educated blacks, however, the wage gap is virtually non-existent and the employment gap is much smaller. Understanding the sources of these labor market racial disparities for lowskilled workers is critical for explaining and mitigating the high poverty rates among blacks.

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Long Commutes or Neighborhood Perceptions: Why Do Employers Avoid Applicants from High-Poverty Neighborhoods?
David C. Phillips, Hope College

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Why do employers discriminate against job applicants who reside in poor, distant neighborhoods? Previous research indicates that employers call back applicants from these neighborhoods at lower rates, but the motivation for employer discrimination based on residential neighborhood remains unclear. Employers could be responding to long commuting distances, which could lead to higher employee absence/tardiness rates or fatigue on the job. On the other hand, employers may perceive workers from particular neighborhoods to be lower quality workers, on average, and thus discriminate based on neighborhood characteristics such as poverty or racial composition rather than distance to the job. The distinction between discrimination based on commuting distance versus neighborhood characteristics matters for public policy. Some policy responses, such as public transit improvements, may be appropriate if employers respond to distance itself but not if they respond to fixed neighborhood attributes.

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