What are the economic circumstances that can produce a very rapid influx of young foreign-born Latino males as described above? Not surprisingly, this kind of population growth coincided with a period of robust economic growth in the South. The new settlement areas of the South stand out both because they have experienced very rapid growth of a Latino population that hardly existed as recently as 1990 and because they have undergone booming economic development. These two factors coincide quite clearly in the six states and 36 counties studied here, although there are important variations among them. The pace of economic growth has been high across all these areas, but that growth has taken different forms.
As with the population increase, the growth of the Latino labor force in the new settlement areas of the South is distinctive because of its size, context and characteristics. Compared with rates both nationally and in traditional settlement areas the pace of growth was very fast, although the absolute numbers were not large. Both white and black employment generally increased also. And the employment growth followed specific patterns by industry.
For Hispanics migrating in search of work in the 1990s, the new settlement areas of the South were particularly attractive destinations. Not only was the region’s economy one of the most robust in the country, but its evolution and diversification created job opportunities that Hispanics were eager and willing to fill. Many new settlement counties in the South were adding manufacturing jobs at a time when such jobs were on the decline in most other areas, and these became a magnet for Hispanics. Other counties, principally those in or near large metropolitan areas, were experiencing growth driven by the service and financial industries and by construction, transportation and public utilities. As non-Hispanic workers filled white-collar jobs in the metropolitan South, Hispanic workers gravitated to construction work in the same areas.
Regional Trends in Income and Employment
The migration of Hispanics into the new settlement areas of the South occurred in the midst of a record expansion of the U.S. economy. The entire period from 1990 to 2000 was marked by economic growth except for a brief recession that lasted from July 1990 to March 1991. As a consequence of the recession, unemployment rates in the United States were relatively high at the beginning of the decade—11.6 percent for Hispanics and 7.1 percent for non-Hispanics in 1992. But in the remainder of the decade real gross domestic product grew at an annual average rate of 3.7 percent and employment increased by more than 2 percent per year. By 2000, the nationwide unemployment rate for Hispanics had been cut in half to 5.7 percent and the rate for non-Hispanics had fallen to just 3.8 percent.4
The economic expansion of the 1990s was led by three regions: the Southeast (which includes the six states studied here), the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountain region.5 As shown in Table 9, income growth in these regions and the Far West exceeded the U.S. average of 5.6 percent per year between 1990 and 2000.6 What is notable about the Southeast, Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions is the breadth of their expansion. Virtually every industry exceeded the national average in income growth. Employment growth, also detailed in Table 9, was equally strong. Employment grew faster than the national average rate of 1.8 percent per year between 1990 and 2000 only in the Southeast, Southwest and Rocky mountain regions. This was true of almost all industries in these three regions, but taking both income and employment growth into consideration, the construction, transportation and public utilities, finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE), and services (especially business services) industries emerge as the leaders of the past decade both nationally and within the fast-growing regions.
A clear economic contrast between the new and traditional settlements emerges from trends in the unemployment rates in these areas. The new Hispanic settlements selected for this study are all in the fast-growing Southeast region. In contrast, many of the traditional states for Hispanics, such as California, New York and Illinois, are located in regions where the growth in income and employment from 1990 to 2000 was below the national average. Figures A3.1 through A3.10 in Appendix 3 show the unemployment rates from 1990 to 2004 in 10 states and the relevant metropolitan areas within those states.
In all six of the states this report focuses on—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee—the unemployment rate hovered below the national rate throughout 1990-2004.7 What is more striking is that the metropolitan areas within these states that received the new Hispanic population consistently recorded unemployment rates below the state averages. For example, three large metropolitan areas in North Carolina— Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, Durham and Raleigh-Cary—are home to most of the new Latino migrants to that state. As shown in Figure 7 below, all three metropolitan areas had unemployment rates below the state and national rates from 1990 to 2004.
Unemployment in states of traditional Latino settlement was generally worse than the national norm. The set of charts in Appendix 3 also contain data for New York, California and Illinois. These three states, and the large metropolitan areas within them that house most Hispanics, tended to have higher unemployment rates than the nation from 1990 to 2004. Figure 8 below illustrates the situation in New York. It is evident that the unemployment rates in the state of New York and the New York City metropolitan area were at or above the national average throughout the 1990 to 2004 time period.
The economic incentives for Hispanic workers to migrate to the Southeast were clear. It was economically vibrant both in the absolute sense and in comparison with traditional Latino settlements during the 1990s. Moreover, economic progress in this region was spread across a variety of industries.
The growth in employment in the six new South states reflected the regional trend. As shown in Table 10, most of these states added jobs at a faster rate than the national average. Georgia led the way with an annual average increase in employment of 2.9 percent per year between 1990 and 2000. That was well above the national rate of growth in employment of 1.8 percent per year. Only Alabama, at 1.6 percent per year, lagged the nation in adding jobs. The new settlement counties not only added Hispanic population at among the highest rates in the country but also averaged job growth of 2.7 percent per year in the 1990s.
Contrary to longstanding national trends, Arkansas, Georgia and the new settlement counties added manufacturing jobs between 1990 and 2000. Indeed, all six states created jobs in durable goods manufacturing at rates ranging from 0.3 percent per year in Alabama to 1.9 percent per year in Georgia. Non-farm industries that increased employment at the highest rates in the new South states and counties were construction, transportation and utilities, retail trade, FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) and services. The growth in employment in business services (advertising, personnel supply, computer services, repair services, etc.) is especially notable, ranging from 5.9 percent per year in Arkansas to 7.5 percent per year in Georgia.8
Employment Growth in the Southern States and Counties, 1990 to 2000
Despite the rapid overall growth in service-sector employment, most Hispanic workers in the new settlement states and counties of the South were employed in either construction or manufacturing in 2000. As shown in Table 11 nearly one half (48.3 percent) of Hispanics in the new settlement counties were doing either construction or manufacturing work.9 This is a sharp contrast to the nation at large, where only 25.5 percent of all Latino workers were engaged in these industries in 2000. The roles are reversed in the four services industries. Whereas 40.5 percent of Hispanics in the nation were employed in services in 2000, that was true of only 32.1 percent of Hispanics in the new settlement counties.
Non-Hispanic white and black workers were also more likely to be hired into construction and manufacturing in the new settlement counties, but for them the contrast to the nation as a whole was not nearly as sharp. It is fair to say that approximately 20 percent of black and white workers were in construction and manufacturing both nationally and in the new settlement counties. Similarly, about 40 percent of these workers were engaged in the service sector both in the U.S. and in the new settlement counties. Both white and black workers display a high concentration in educational, health and social services.
The growth in the employment of Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers in the new settlement states and counties was well in excess of the nationwide rate. Data from the decennial censuses show that total employment in the U.S. for Hispanic workers increased by 48.6 percent between 1990 and 2000 (Table 12). However, the increase in employment of Latinos in the six new settlement states was much higher than the nationwide rate. The smallest increase was in Alabama, but even so the employment of Latino workers there increased by 244 percent.10 The largest increase, 495 percent, occurred in North Carolina. In the six new settlement states combined, Latino employment was 349 percent higher in 2000 than in 1990. The employment of non-Hispanic workers increased by 14.9 percent in the six Southern states. This was well above the national average growth of 9.1 percent for non-Hispanics in the 1990s. Georgia led the way for non-Hispanic workers as their employment increased by 19.8 percent in that state.
However, the new South was more critical to the growth in jobs for non-Hispanic than for Hispanic workers. While the percentage increases in the employment of Latinos are astounding, the absolute increases in number are more modest. In the six Southern states combined, the total increase in Hispanic employment was just over 404,000, and that accounted for less than 10 percent of the nationwide increase of 4.4 million in Latino employment. All together, these six states added jobs for 1.9 million non-Hispanic workers between 1990 and 2000. That amounted to 20 percent of the nationwide increase of 9.7 million in non-Latino employment. Overall, more than 80 percent of the new jobs created in these states in the 1990s were filled by non-Hispanic workers and fewer than 20 percent by Hispanics. The Hispanic share of new jobs was much higher on a nationwide basis as Latinos captured 31 percent of the 14 million new jobs created nationally between 1990 and 2000.
Table 12 also details the employment opportunities created during the 1990s for Latino and non-Latino workers in each of the 36 Southern counties selected for this study. Collectively, these counties created new jobs for both Hispanics (up 435 percent) and non-Hispanics (up 16 percent) at a faster rate than the average for all six states in the new South. The share of Hispanics in total job growth in these counties was 26 percent—higher than for the six states but lower than the national average. There was, however, considerable variation in the growth of employment across counties. For non-Hispanics, employment fell by 11.7 percent in Whitfield County, Ga. That was the only county in which non-Hispanics lost jobs. In the remaining 35 counties, the lowest percentage increase in employment for non-Hispanics was 0.3 percent in Gaston County, N.C., on the western fringe of Charlotte; the highest was 59.1 percent in DeSoto, Miss., in the Memphis metropolitan area. For Hispanics, the employment gains ranged from 236.5 percent in DeKalb County, Ga., in metropolitan Atlanta, to 1,470 percent in Randolph County, N.C., in the Greensboro-High Point metropolitan area. The counties in North Carolina appear to have delivered consistently high job growth for Hispanics from 1990 to 2000.
It is important to note that the data in Table 12 measure the employment status of residents of a county regardless of where the jobs are located. Since individuals may commute to work across county lines, job losses or gains within a county may actually reflect economic developments in a neighboring county. So, for example, the job loss for non-Hispanics in a suburban county like Whitfield could have been the consequence of economic developments in an adjacent county. Conversely, employment growth in Union County, N.C., may be tied to job growth in the Charlotte metropolitan area, most of which lies in Mecklenburg County.
There is little evidence that the gains for Latinos were accompanied by losses for non- Latinos. Subject to the caveat that resident and job locations may differ, if Latino job growth was a catalyst for job loss among non-Latinos one would expect to observe below-par job gains for non-Latinos in counties with higher job growth for Latinos. But that is not generally the case. Several counties with extremely rapid job growth among Hispanics also had well above average job growth among non-Hispanics. Examples of these counties are Cabarrus and Union in North Carolina, Benton in Arkansas and DeSoto in Mississippi. On the other side of the coin, there are several counties with below-par growth for both Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Examples of these are DeKalb in Georgia, Shelby in Tennessee and Jefferson in Alabama. The overall pace of economic growth in counties appears to have been the most powerful influence on job opportunities for all groups of workers. In other words, employment tended to grow at relatively fast or slow rates for Latinos and non-Latinos in the same counties.
Employment trends for black workers specifically also show no signs of job displacement from the rapid influx of Hispanic workers. The nationwide employment of black workers increased 14 percent between 1990 and 2000, but it grew by 20.7 percent in the new South states and 33 percent in the new settlement counties in the same time period (See Table A3.1 in Appendix 3).11 There was an erosion of black employment in only three counties—Davidson, Duplin and Union, all in North Carolina. Most counties in Georgia witnessed dramatic increases in the employment of black workers. Gwinnett County nearly quadrupled the number of blacks employed, from 10,812 in 1990 to 40,971 in 2000.
In sum, economic growth in the new South appears to have delivered significant new job opportunities for most workers during the 1990s. The increase in employment of Hispanic workers was strong in all counties and varied only in its intensity. There was no job loss for non- Hispanic workers, and in numerous counties their employment increased at rates well above the national average.
Economic Characteristics of New Settlement Counties
No single form of economic development explains the rapid influx of Hispanic workers to the new South. In fact, the job growth took place in a variety of economic settings across the new settlement counties. The Latino workforce increased at a rapid rate just as much in small towns where poultry-packing plants were major employers and in big cities where bank headquarters dominated the skyline. Examining data at the county level illustrates this diversity.
The new settlement counties can be loosely classified into three broad categories using the principal sources of income and employment in those counties as yardsticks. These three categories are Diverse, Transition and Manufacturing. Each category represents a different economic context for Latino population growth, and each illustrates a somewhat different role for Latino workers in the economic development of new settlement areas in the South.
The Diverse counties draw their income and employment from a variety of industries. Economic growth in these counties in 1990s was also driven by a number of industries ranging from FIRE to services to transportation and utilities. Most of these counties are in or around large metropolitan areas including Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Memphis and Birmingham.
Fulton and Gwinnett counties in Georgia and Mecklenburg and Union counties in North Carolina are typical of counties with a diverse economic base. Fulton and Gwinnett are part of the Atlanta metropolitan area and were home to a combined total of over 1.4 million persons in 2000. The services sector is the leading industry in Fulton, accounting for 29 percent of income in 1990 and more than 35 percent by 2000 (see Appendix 4). FIRE and transportation and public utilities also grew over the decade, increasing their contribution to income in Fulton from a total of 24 percent to 28 percent. The rate of growth in income in FIRE and services was especially impressive in Fulton; both registered an average annual change of 10 percent per year in current dollars. In neighboring Gwinnett County, growth in FIRE and services was even higher at more than 15 percent per year. In 1990, manufacturing, wholesale trade and services contributed income in almost equal measure in Gwinnett, but, by 2000, services had emerged as the leader in both income and employment. In both counties, roughly 50 percent of Hispanic workers could be found in either construction or services. The role of Hispanics in construction is especially important in Gwinnett and Fulton because they made up over 25 percent of the construction work force in those counties.
Mecklenburg and Union counties, home to more than 800,000 persons in 2000, are part of the Charlotte-Gastonia metropolitan area on the south-central border of North Carolina. Mecklenburg, which is the core of the metropolitan area, currently draws income from FIRE and services in almost equal measure—20 percent from the former and 25 percent from the latter. Transportation and public utilities, manufacturing and wholesale trade are other important sources of income and employment. Union, which lies on the fringes of Charlotte, depended upon manufacturing, especially poultry processing, in 1990. However, sharp growth in income and employment in the services and construction sectors is steadily eroding the importance of manufacturing in Union. According to the Union County Chamber of Commerce, three of the top 10 employers in Union are now construction companies (see Appendix 4) and as manufacturing diminished in importance construction loomed as a larger source of both income and employment (see Appendix 4). As was the case in Atlanta, the leading draws for Hispanic workers to these counties were the construction and services industries with more than 50 percent of Hispanic workers in Mecklenburg and over 40 percent in Union employed in these industries.
Durham County, N.C., the home of Duke University, is counted here as a diverse economy even though it draws more than 40 percent of its income from manufacturing. Much of this is high-technology, high-value-added manufacturing that employs relatively few workers. Thus, the leading employer by far in Durham County is the services industry, which employs more than 40 percent of workers in the county. At the same time, services account for more than 30 percent of income in Durham. The service sector in Durham is also devoted to high-end services; Duke University Medical Center, Research Triangle Center, Blue Cross and Durham Regional Hospital are among the major employers (see Appendix 4). The role of Hispanic workers in Durham shows the characteristics of other diverse economies with more than 60 percent of them working in construction and services.
The Transition counties were dependent on the manufacturing sector as a key source of income and employment in 1990. But these counties either shed manufacturing jobs or witnessed the emergence of other sectors, primarily services, as a leading source of income and employment in the 1990s. Many of these counties are lightly populated or on urban fringes.
Gaston County in North Carolina is part of the Charlotte-Gastonia metropolitan area but is classified as a Transition county. Manufacturing here has diminished in importance and services, which provided half as much employment as manufacturing in 1990, are now an equally important source of employment. But manufacturing, especially textiles, has not completely faded away and provided for 37 percent of income and 27 percent of employment in 2000 in Gaston. Benton, Ark., is another transition county that has transformed from a manufacturing-based economy to a retail-trade economy. That, of course, is coincidental with the rise of Wal-Mart, Inc. Nonetheless, Benton retains many of its older ties to food processing and Tyson Foods, Inc., and Kraft are among the leading employers. The mix of manufacturing and retail trade in Benton employed more than 50 percent of Hispanic workers in Benton in 2000. In Gaston, where textile manufacturing retains a stronger presence, nearly 60 percent of Latinos were employed in manufacturing alone in 2000.
Manufacturing counties count upon the manufacturing sector as their primary source of income and employment. All of these counties added manufacturing jobs between 1990 and 2000. These counties have small to mid-size populations and several are non-metropolitan.
Two sparsely populated counties—Catawba, N.C., and Hall, Ga.—are typical of manufacturing counties. The manufacturing industry remains the leading source of income and employment in these counties—furniture in the case of Catawba, home to the city of Hickory, and food processing in the case of Hall. Both counties added manufacturing jobs between 1990 and 2000, at more than 3 percent per year in the case of Hall. In 2000, nearly 40 percent of all employment in Catawba was provided by the manufacturing sector with services contributing a scant 18 percent. Not surprisingly, more than 60 percent of Latinos in Catawba worked in manufacturing-sector jobs.
Employment and Income Patterns in New Settlement Counties, 2000
This section presents more detailed evidence on the industry and occupation distributions and the earnings of Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers in the new settlement counties. The evidence is shown for the three groups of counties—Diverse, Transition and Manufacturing— rather than for individual counties. Economic trends in individual counties that typify each of these three groups were presented in the preceding section. A full list of counties that are classified into each of these groups is shown in Table A2.1 in Appendix 2.
The collective growth in employment in each group of counties from 1990 to 2000 is presented in Table 13. For Latino workers, growth was strong in all three groups but leaned toward counties with a manufacturing base in 1990. The Manufacturing and Transition counties provided employment for only 10,039 Latinos in 1990, or 19 percent of the total employment of Latinos in all three groups of counties. By 2000, the number of employed Latinos in the two county groups had increased to 69,253, or 24 percent of the total employment of Latinos in the new South counties. It is also notable that Hispanic workers accounted for 40 percent of the increase in total employment in the Manufacturing counties. Thus, the manufacturing sector in the new South provided considerable new opportunities for Hispanic workers.
Employment growth for non-Hispanic workers was strongest in the Diverse counties. Their employment in this group of counties increased by 17.5 percent from 1990 to 2000 compared with about 14 percent or less in the Manufacturing and Transition counties. This is most likely a function of the fact that economic development in Diverse counties was led by a variety of industries, including industries such as FIRE and business services that hire many white-collar workers. In keeping with their greater proclivity for white-collar work, non- Hispanics accounted for 76 percent of the new employment created in the Diverse counties in the 1990s. This is well above their 60 percent share of new jobs in Manufacturing and Transition counties.
Hispanic workers moved into the new South to work primarily in the manufacturing and construction industries. This was demonstrated in Table 11, which showed that 48 percent of Latinos in the new settlement counties were engaged in these two industries alone in 2000. A further specialization into manufacturing or construction work is evident from the employment patterns in the three county groups. Not surprisingly, Hispanic and other workers are most likely to be employed in the manufacturing sector in counties that depend on those industries. As shown in Table 14, about 15 percent each of Hispanics and non-Hispanics work in manufacturing on a nationwide basis. However, in the new South counties where manufacturing remains vital the proportions of white and black workers in manufacturing were 28.1 percent and 35.1 percent respectively in 2000. Among Latinos, a solid majority of 57 percent in Manufacturing counties was employed in either durable or non-durables good manufacturing. In Murray, Whitfield and Gordon Counties in Georgia, where textile mills are a major factor, Hispanic workers are engaged almost exclusively in manufacturing; 70 percent of them are employed in that industry alone.
The very high concentration of Hispanic workers in manufacturing did not mean that they had also staked claim to most jobs in that industry in Manufacturing counties. In Murray, Whitfield and Gordon counties the Hispanic share of manufacturing jobs was only 20 percent in 2000. The Latino share in manufacturing jobs in this group of counties was highest in Hall County, Ga., (34%) and lowest in Rowan County, N.C. (5%).
The engagement of Hispanic workers in manufacturing remains strong in the Transition counties. A high plurality of them—42.6 percent—are located in the manufacturing industry in Transition counties. Notable concentrations of Latino workers in manufacturing again occur in two counties noted for textiles and furniture production—Randolph (67%) and Robeson (58%), both in North Carolina. Overall, though, there are proportionally fewer Latinos in manufacturing in Transition counties. Their share of jobs in the manufacturing industry in this group of counties ranges from a high of 22.7 percent in Sampson and Duplin counties in North Carolina to a low of 4.2 percent in Davidson County, also in North Carolina. Sampson and Duplin are rural counties and food processing is an important part of their manufacturing sectors.
The reduced role of manufacturing in Transition counties does not necessarily mean that Hispanics were moving into new growth industries in those counties. For example, even as retail trade reshaped the economic landscape in Benton County, Ark., 52.6 percent of Latinos in that county could be found in manufacturing in 2000. Similarly, Sampson and Duplin counties collectively were shedding manufacturing jobs in the 1990s while they witnessed growth in other sectors, such as FIRE, trade and services. But 63.7 percent of Latino workers in Sampson and Duplin could be found in either manufacturing or agriculture, the “old guard” industries in those counties.
In contrast to the other county groups, Latinos in Diverse counties are most likely to be found doing construction work. The proportion of Latino workers in the manufacturing sector in the Diverse counties drops to only 13.4 percent but the proportion in the construction industry climbs sharply to 30.1 percent (three times the national norm for Latinos in 2000). This is a fairly uniform phenomenon across the counties with a diverse economic base. The proportion of Hispanics in the manufacturing industry in these counties ranges from 7% in DeKalb, Ga., to 24.8% in Forsyth, N.C. On the other hand, the percentage of Hispanics in the construction industry is high in all Diverse counties, varying from 20% in Jefferson County, Ala., to 44.4% in Franklin and Johnston counties in North Carolina. Durham County, N.C., is highly dependent on Hispanics in construction; they account for 39.5 percent of the workforce in that industry. However, the employment share of Latino workers in the construction industry is most notable in DeKalb, where nearly one half (45.3%) of construction-sector employment is in their hands.
Diverse counties also employ sizable proportions of Hispanic workers in other industries, such as arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations and food services and professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management services. The former sector includes hotels and restaurants and the latter includes landscaping and other services to building and dwellings. The industry distributions of white and black workers in the Diverse counties roughly approximate the nationwide industry distributions of these workers.
The economic contrast across the county groups is also evident in the occupational distributions of workers in 2000 (Table 14). The share of Hispanic workers engaged in production occupations diminishes from 45.6 percent in Manufacturing counties to 11.2 percent in the Diverse counties, whereas the proportion in construction occupations rises from 11.6 percent to 28.5 percent. Most notably, just over one half (50.7%) of Latinos in Gordon, Murray and Whitfield counties in Georgia were production workers. In Franklin and Johnston counties in North Carolina 43.7% of Latinos were in construction occupations alone.
Hispanic workers in Diverse counties are also likely to be found in management, professional and related occupations but their representation in these occupations (13.2%) in Diverse counties was below their national average (16.1%) in 2000. Similarly, Latinos were far less likely (6.9%) than the national norm (13.7%) to be found in office and administrative-support occupations in Diverse counties. These tendencies are, no doubt, a reflection of the fact that Latinos in the new South are far more likely to be foreign born than in the rest of the country.
White and black workers are also far more likely to be found in white-collar occupations in Diverse counties in comparison with other counties. In fact, 40.1% of whites could be found in management, professional and related occupations alone in the Diverse counties, well above their national average of 31.6% in 2000. Conversely, white workers were less likely than the national average to be employed as construction or production workers in Diverse counties.
Overall, the employment patterns in the new settlement counties in 2000 reveal a strong concentration of Latinos in manufacturing and construction. In part, this is a reflection of the characteristics of these workers. As shown earlier in this report, Latino workers in the new South are more likely than average to be male and foreign born. However, the data also show that Hispanic workers, as well as white and black workers, were also responding to economic trends in these counties. All Manufacturing and some Transition counties continued to create manufacturing jobs in the 1990s. Thus, high proportions of all workers, not just Latino workers, were engaged in production work in these counties. However, manufacturing employment is scarcer in the Diverse counties, and Latino workers appeared to have responded to economic growth in these counties by filling construction jobs. Yet construction was only one source of growth in these counties. Leading roles were also played by FIRE, business services and trade. Reflecting their comparative advantage, white and black workers in these counties are concentrated in relatively greater proportions in management and administrative-support occupations.
Earnings of Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Workers
The earnings of Hispanic workers were fairly constant across the three county groups in 2000. As shown in Table 15, the median annual income of Latinos in Manufacturing counties was $16,000. It was at the same level in Diverse counties and, at $15,000, only a little lower in Transition counties. The income data are consistent with the concentration of Hispanic workers in blue-collar jobs, either in manufacturing or construction, in all three county groups.
However, the income of Hispanics relative to whites was much lower in Diverse counties in comparison with the other counties. Nationally, Latinos were earning 61 percent as much as whites in 2000.12 The situation was approximately the same in manufacturing-oriented counties, as Latinos earned 64 percent as much as whites in Manufacturing counties and 58 percent as much in Transition counties. But the median income of whites in Diverse counties is significantly higher than in the other counties—$34,100 versus $26,000 or less in the other county groups. This reflects the far greater opportunities in white-collar occupations for white workers in Diverse counties. Consequently, Hispanic workers earned only 47 percent as much as white workers in Diverse counties in 2000.
A Look Ahead
The economic expansion in the 1990s came to an end with a recession lasting from March to November 2001. The recession was relatively short and not severe. However, the recovery from the recession was uncharacteristically slow and it took approximately two years from the end of the recession for the first signs of job growth to appear. That period is generally referred to as the “jobless recovery.” The new settlement states were not immune to the effects of the business cycle. As shown in Figures A3.1 to A3.10 in Appendix 3 the unemployment rates in these states followed the ups and downs of the U.S. economy. The unemployment rates in North Carolina and South Carolina climbed above the national rates in 2001. In some specific metropolitan areas, such as Memphis, the unemployment rate remained below the U.S. average for much of the post-2000 period but increased at a faster rate. Mixed signals from the unemployment rate are also reflected in payroll figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationally, payroll data showed a fall of 0.8 percent in private-sector employment between 2001 and 2004. However, the fall in employment exceeded this percentage in Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. The same was true in some major metropolitan areas, such as Atlanta, Greenville, S.C., and Durham, N.C. Thus, labor market indicators suggest a slowing down in the incentives to migrate to the Southeast during the 2001 recession and the period thereafter.
A more optimistic economic picture is presented by data on income growth. Those data show that income growth in the Southeast at large and in most of the six new settlement states was higher than the national average from the recession in 2001 to the end of the jobless recovery in 2003 (Table 16). Income growth from 2001 to 2003 was slightly below par in Georgia and North Carolina but most of the new settlement counties within these states sustained higher income growth than the national average. The most notable exceptions were three counties in the Atlanta area—Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton—where there was a slowdown in both the construction and services industries. In the aggregate, the employment and income data suggest that the economic incentive to migrate to certain areas in the new South may have been mitigated by the 2001 recession. But the permanence of these effects remains to be determined, and conditions remain favorable for ongoing migration to several new settlement areas in the South.