Mexican Niches in the US Construction Industry: 2009–2015

  • Pedro Spindler-RuizEmail author


Mexican immigrants are the largest immigrant group in the USA and are highly concentrated in the US construction industry. As a result, they are particularly affected by fluctuations in the economy and were disproportionately affected by the Great Recession. As this population continues to grow, a growing body of empirical studies are quantifying the impacts of ethnic niches in relation to earnings. However, there is still an ongoing debate regarding the economic benefits of ethnic niches and whether self-employment helps or hurts earnings. This study contributes to the discussion on these issues by using micro-data from the 2009 and 2015 Five-Year American Community Surveys to examine changes in the earnings of Mexican immigrants in the US construction industry in twenty US metropolitan regions. The study examines how earnings changed during and shortly after the Great Recession to gain a better understanding of how ethnic niches differed from non-ethnic niches. The findings provide evidence that ethnic niches and being self-employed had detrimental effects on earnings. Working in post-recession years were associated with increases in earnings, regardless of niche status.


Ethnic niches Mexican immigrants Construction Immigrant integration Earnings 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology & AnthropologySaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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