PUERTO RICANS IN THE NEW YORK CITY LABOR MARKET, 1970: A STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS

BRIAN FRANCIS EARLEY, Fordham University

Abstract

As a result of migration, about one-third of the total Puerto Rican population in 1970 lived in the continental United States. In recognition of this massive movement, a significant amount of social research centering upon the Puerto Rican mainland population has been undertaken in recent decades. These research efforts have systematically revealed the existence of pervasive socioeconomic differentials between the subordinate Puerto Rican population and the non-Puerto Rican population in the continental United States.^ The present research takes the position that the Puerto Rican migration to the United States is analogous in many respects to European labor migrations. Thus, the socioeconomic position of the Puerto Rican population in the New York labor market can be understood in terms of the structure of the labor market and its connection with the demand for low-skill labor within the competitive sector of the industrial structure.^ The present study utilizes a set of special tabulations of the 1970 Census produced by the United States Bureau of the Census from the Basic Record Files for the total and Puerto Rican populations as its data source. These tabulations were specifically designed to describe the sociodemographic and labor force characteristics of Recent and Early Migrants, and to differentiate among persons of Puerto Rican Birth and those of Puerto Rican Parentage. The specific group under study is Puerto Rican men 25-to-44 years of age living in New York City in 1970.^ An examination of the general socioeconomic characteristics of Puerto Rican men was carried out. It was observed that the Puerto Rican populations were younger, had lower school enrollment, lower educational attainment, lower labor force participation, higher unemployment, and lower income than did the total population. These men were also found to be concentrated in the low-status, low-skill occupations within low-skill industries, having earnings inferior to those of the total population. These characteristics were similar to those of European labor migrants, and as such, were attributed to much the same structural situation--namely, employment within the declining and dead-end portions of job structure.^ An occupation-industry map of the New York labor market was operationalized into high- and low-wage sectors through the application of an annual median earnings criterion. This was done to ascertain whether there existed a relationship between duration of residence in the continental United States and the extent to which the labor force activity of the Puerto Rican populations was located within the high-wage or low-wage sectors of the market. It was observed that Puerto Rican men were overrepresented within the low-wage sector of the labor market and that this representation was not affected by the duration of residence of the Puerto Rican born men.^ This differential location within the low-wage sector, combined with research which indicates differential returns to human capital variables within the peripheral sector, provide a logical explanation for the subordinate economic position of New York Puerto Ricans.^ Puerto Ricans migrants were thus seen to be functioning as 'labor-input' within the commodity-chain which was developed between the United States and Puerto Rico. From this viewpoint, their economic position in the New York City labor market can best be interpreted with an awareness of the initial character of the Puerto Rican migration as a response to a sector specific demand for low-skill labor, the historically diverging work environments of the industrial sectors, the movement of low-skill demand out of the northeastern region of the United States, and the individual characteristics of the migrants. ^

Subject Area

Demography

Recommended Citation

EARLEY, BRIAN FRANCIS, "PUERTO RICANS IN THE NEW YORK CITY LABOR MARKET, 1970: A STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8020058.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020058

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