Unemployment and Immigrant Receptivity Climate in Established and Newly Emerging Destination Areas
This study examines whether the receptivity climate toward immigrants varies across traditional, new, and emerging Hispanic immigrant destinations in the U.S. and whether that climate is related to local unemployment rates and to the job-skill level of immigrants who settle in these places. We utilize unique, newly collected data to measure local labor market area immigrant receptivity climate based on content analysis of a random sample of all articles addressing immigrants/immigration which were published by local area newspapers from 1995 to 2010. The descriptive data show considerable diversity in local and regional immigrant receptivity patterns across the 380 U.S. labor market areas. Using annual labor market-specific unemployment rates, decadal measures of the educational attainment of immigrants and natives in the labor market area, and an annual summary measure of the immigrant receptivity climate, controlling for theoretically relevant labor market contextual characteristics, results from our regression models show that the immigrant receptivity climate is more negative where unemployment rates are higher. However, this relationship is evident only for new and non-destination areas compared with established immigrant destinations when control variables are considered. While a higher skill level of immigrants (a labor competition argument) is related to less negativity toward them, it does not explain the relationship between unemployment and immigrant receptivity climate. Overall, a high skill level of natives is the better explanation for a more positive immigrant receptivity climate.