Making Ends Meet: Income-Generating Strategies among Mexican Immigrants

By Socorro Torres Sarmiento | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Economic Restructuring and the
Migrant Labor Market in Southern
California

One of the most significant factors that influence the events after immigrant arrival to the United States is the host labor market (Portes and Rumbaut, 1990). To understand how Tzintzuntzeño families have organized their daily income generating strategies, we must closely observe the forms in which these families are integrated into the region economy, as well as the characteristics of contemporary economic restructuring1 in Los Angeles and Orange County (Sassen 1988,

Morales and Bonilla, 1993; Manuel Pastor, 1998). This section analyzes the interdependence that exists between Los Angeles and Orange County's economic restructuring and immigrant labor market and provides the theoretical and contextual framework to understand how this relationship affects Tzintzuntzeño families.

Research has established immigration as a key factor in labor market restructuring (Morales and Bonilla, 1993; Gordon and Sassen, 1992; Sassen, 1988, 1993). In Southern California, the growing Latino population and its increasing labor force participation give the region important features. This line of research has also shown that an effect of economic restructuring in this area is the formation of impoverished barrios, another feature that creates an intense atmosphere that breeds strong social networks.2 Several contextual factors such as the reliance on the Latino labor force in the low-wage service sector, the new flexibility employers sought in response to the pressure of international

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