Study Reveals Bias Against Super Commuters in Hiring Practices

A study by David C. Phillips, associate professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame, reveals hiring prejudice against people who would have to commute farther to work, in addition to bias against people with "black sounding" names.
August 29, 2018, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Low-wage employers in Washington, D.C., discriminate against applicants with longer commutes and those with stereotypically “black” names," reports Denise-Marie Ordway, previewing a study [pdf] forthcoming in the Journal of Human Resources.

"The study finds that when presented with otherwise similar resumes, hiring managers who are trying to fill a position that requires only a high school diploma are less likely to call back applicants who live farther away. Applicants from distant communities get 14 percent fewer callbacks than those living nearby," according to Ordway.

The finding about a preference for hiring people with shorter commutes is separate from the study's other finding: that people with stereotypically black sounding names are also less likely to receive hiring call backs.

The author of the story, David C. Phillips, views these findings as likely to mirror similar realities in other cities. "[Phillips] suggests that policies aimed at moving lower-income adults closer to jobs or better public transportation systems may improve their chances of securing work," according to Ordwell. The article also clearly stands the new study in contrast to a 2007 study by scholars at the National Bureau of Economic Research and Harvard University finding that "public housing residents did not improve their work status after moving to higher-income areas." 

Phillips also presents these findings as troubling in light of an increasing super commuters and low-income populations moving farther afield in metropolitan areas, drastically increasing commute trip lengths in the demographic. 

The new study also isn't the first to find evidence of bias against super commuters. A Planetizen blog post by Shane Philips from February 2014 details the findings and implications of similar analysis conducted at Xerox Services.

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Published on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 in Journalist's Resource
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