Fewer Americans Relocating for New Jobs

The total number of people in the US willing to relocate for a job has been trending downwards for a few years, with a decrease of 10% from 2015 to 2017. This is despite a 20% increase in population over that time period. As a percent, the share of relocating for jobs has been dropping ever since the late 1980s, from over 33% then to 10% in the first half of 2018. At least one executive search firm, the Salveson Stetson Group, has noticed the shift. They had been assuming prospective workers would be willing to relocate, but now they’ve recognized that it’s a relevant question that needs to be brought up.

There are a few factors contributing to this. Housing costs have risen in the cities, where most job opportunities are located, pricing people out of relocation for a large number of possible positions. Changing social patterns also account for some of it. Children have more of a say in when or where parents can relocate, as parents are increasingly reluctant to break up friendships or routines. In some cases adults are living with aging parents and taking care of them, so they can’t move away. Double income households are also more common with more women sharing part of the income, so both spouses may need to change jobs to relocate.

Additional factors could be the changing nature of the job market itself. We’re approaching more of a gig economy, with jobs often being short term, so a major change for a temporary position seems ill-advised or annoying at best. Telecommuting into from-home jobs is also on the rise.


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