Poverty Suburbanization, Job Accessibility, and Employment Outcomes

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Poverty Suburbanization, Job Accessibility, and Employment Outcomes


  • Elizabeth Delmelle Department of Geography & Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina – Charlotte, USA
  • Isabelle Nilsson Department of Geography & Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina – Charlotte, USA
  • Providence Adu Department of Geography & Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina – Charlotte, USA


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Abstract:  The last decade of urbanization throughout many cities have seen a perceptible shift in the demand for centralized urban amenities while poverty has increasingly decentralized. Yet, the opportunity landscape of these shifting geographies of poverty and prosperity are not well understood. In this article, we examine how access to employment for low-income households has been impacted as a result of these changing geographies. Using a case study on the Charlotte metropolitan area we examine whether the suburbanization of poverty and reinvestment in the center city has reshaped the job opportunity landscape for low-wage residents. The objectives of this article are twofold. First, we calculate and map autobased accessibility from all neighborhoods in the Charlotte metropolitan area to job locations, differentiated by wage categories, in 2010 and 2017 to identify potential changes in the mismatch between low-income households and access to employment. We use a point-level employment dataset for these two years and calculate accessibility originating from census block groups. Second, we estimate the extent to which access to employment has affected employment rates and household incomes at the neighborhood level using a first-difference, spatial two-stage least squares model with instrumental variables. Our findings suggest that changes in accessibility had no significant effect on changes in neighborhood employment rates. However, we find evidence that increasing accessibility for lower-income households could have a positive effect on neighborhood median household incomes. Overall, the polycentric nature of Charlotte appears to have reduced the spatial mismatch between low-income workers and low-wage jobs.

Keywords:  accessibility; labor market outcomes; income segregation; spatial dependence; spatial mismatch

Published:   13 May 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i2.3735


© Elizabeth Delmelle, Isabelle Nilsson, Providence Adu. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.