Internal migration has long been the overlooked factor leading some to believe that immigration does not significantly affect, or even increases, wages for native-born American workers. Not accounting for those leaving one region for another in search of higher wages and lower living costs some economists have postulated that the slack market for low-skilled labor created by large migratory inflows somehow does not impact on wages. Harvard professor George Borjas corrected this oversight by accounting for internal migration and discovered that, contra the Voodoo Theory of Labor Markets, a greater supply of labor decreases its cost.
But it isn’t merely the search for higher wages and lower housing costs (for our immigration non-policy’s part in the real estate bust see Steve Sailer ) that contribute to internal migration, it’s also the search for community lost to rapid demographic change–and if you’ve yet to shed the retrograde view that the economy should serve society rather than the reverse, this is the greater concern. No longer just the recourse of “racist” whites unenthusiastic about being assaulted on their home streets and sending their children to increasingly dangerous and chaotic schools, the practice of departing neighborhoods in which one no longer feels welcome is now a multi-racial phenomenon. Call it Blight Flight.
The Los Angeles Times relates the story of San Bernadino’s sole synagogue following its would-be congregants into the sweltering, arid California interior:
Tracking the freeway east, one comes to Redlands and other small neighboring cities. As jobs evaporated and crime worsened in San Bernardino, many professionals, among them many members of the city’s Jewish community, moved east.
The decision by Emanu El’s leaders to break its historic ties to San Bernardino spurred dissent from some congregants, most notably from its prominent rabbi emeritus. But Kohn said the move was unavoidable if the temple was to stop hemorrhaging congregants who were moving away.
He compared the eastward shift to other Jewish migrations, including that of the Jewish community in Los Angeles, which was once based on the Eastside but has since moved west.
“Would you argue that all of the Jews of the Valley, the Westside and Orange County move back to Boyle Heights?” said Kohn, who specialized in Jewish American migration during his rabbinical studies
Boyle Heights, once a racially diverse magnet for various immigrant groups but now 95% Hispanic, is a rough neighborhood east of LA known for its Latino gangs, who are in turn notorious for their hostility toward one another and outsiders in general. This familiar process has replicated itself throughout California, sometimes accompanied by organized racial violence in its late stages with the intent of driving the remaining racial outsiders out of the neighborhood. While the country may be growing more diverse as a whole as a result of immigration, our individual communities may be growing less so, and to the extent that they are diverse it appears they become less cohesive, that is less of a community, as depressingly outlined by Harvard professor Robert Putnam in a recent paper.
San Bernadino’s mayor lamented the loss:
The departure drew the attention of San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, who called it a significant loss for the city. The synagogue’s members, he said, have historically been leaders in the community. The mayor said Emanu El’s move was part of a broad migration of upper-middle-income professionals out of the city.
“With the closing of shops, the closing of the Air Force base, a whole series of major blue-collar employers leaving, life changed in this fair city,” Morris said. “More dependence on government resources, higher welfare. It is what it is.”
Congregants at Emanu El say that shift was evident at the synagogue, with car break-ins and tagging nearby and the need for surveillance cameras and for security guards at services.
San Bernardino experienced an influx of foreign-born workers during the recent bubble-borne expansion, many to build homes for those priced out of the more desirable markets nearer the coast.