Employment and Crime: The Effects of Labor Market Structure on Metropolitan Crime Rates

Harald Ernst Weiss, Georgia State University
Lesley Williams Reid, Georgia State University

Since the early 1970s, service sector employment has grown while manufacturing employment has declined, resulting in unemployment and poverty for large segments of urban populations. Since service sector jobs are disproportionately located in the secondary labor market, the structure of US labor markets has fundamentally changed as well. This study investigates the relationship between the concentration of secondary labor market jobs and crime rates in a representative sample of 150 US MSAs in 2000. The selected MSAs differ across a variety of factors including, but not limited to, unemployment rates, inequality, industrial composition, and the relative share of primary versus secondary labor market jobs. We develop models that explore the importance of these factors in explaining crime rates, with emphasis on the effect of the size of secondary labor markets.

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Updated 05/20/2006