Day laborers in New York’s informal economy.

Melendez, Edwin, Nik Theodore, and Abel Valenzuela. 

In Informal Work in Developed Nations, pp. 151-168. Routledge, 2009.


An early morning commute through the boroughs of New York City usually provides a glimpse of at least one of the more than 50 curb-side, open-air labor markets where groups of men (and some women) congregate daily in their search for prospective employers. The jobseekers who gather at these sites along busy thoroughfares, at major intersections in port-of-entry immigrant neighborhoods, and in front of home improvement stores, are primarily immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and South America. They mainly are seeking jobs as general laborers or skilled trades workers in the local construction industry. Others will be hired by landscaping contractors, small manufacturers, moving companies, and homeowners. Most of these workers refer to themselves as jornaleros-“day laborer” in the vernacular Spanish of their countries of origin. For some of these workers, day labor offers an opportunity to gain a foothold in the U.S. economy. For others, it represents a chance to earn an income when temporarily laid off from another job. For still others, it is the employment of last resort.

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