Why Are Labor Market Outcomes of Married Women Better in Detroit? The Role of Long and Variable Commutes?
This paper shows that for college-trained individuals, congestion and related uncertainty about how long a commute may take adversely affects the labor market outcomes of married women. This holds even after controlling for average commute times and other MSA-level attributes (including MSA size). These patterns are also present for both labor force participation (LFP) and the degree to which working individuals with professional training are employed in occupations for which they trained. Evidence affirms that larger MSAs enhance labor market opportunities, consistent with previous literature. New to this paper, average commute time has little effect on labor market outcomes. Instead, it is the volatility of commute times as proxied by rush hour congestion that discourages highly trained women from participating in the workforce, and which reduces the quality of their labor market match for those who are employed.
How Centralized is U.S. Metropolitan Employment?
(with Jason Brown, McKenzie Humann, Jordan Rappaport, and Aaron Smalter Hall )
Centralized employment remains a benchmark stylization of metropolitan land use. To address its empirical relevance, we delineate ``central employment zones'' (CEZs)---central business districts together with nearby concentrated employment---for 168 metropolitan areas in 2000. To do so, we first subjectively classify which census tracts in a training sample of metros belong to their metro's CEZ and then use a learning algorithm to construct a function that predicts our judgment. On average, the predicted CEZs account for only 16 percent of metropolitan employment in 2000. However, the distribution of shares is positively skewed. Moreover, employment centralization is considerably higher for agglomerative occupations---those that arguably benefit most from face-to-face contact and account for 24 percent of metro employment.
[This paper was originally posted as a Federal Reserve Working Paper. New draft coming soon.]