Growing Reluctance to Move: Job Relocations Down

Despite a tight labor market with numerous openings, there's a growing reluctance to move.

The Wall Street Journal reports Fewer Americans Uproot Themselves for New Jobs.

Fewer Americans are moving around the country to pursue new work opportunities, as a tighter labor market and changing family ties make people less willing to uproot their lives for a job.

About 3.5 million Americans relocated for a new job last year, according to census data, a 10% drop from 3.8 million in 2015. The numbers have fluctuated between 2.8 million and 4.5 million since the government started tracking job-related relocations in 1999but have been trending lower overall, even as the U.S. population grew by nearly 20% over that stretch.

The share of job seekers relocating for new employment has fallen dramatically since the late 1980s, when more than a third moved to take new opportunities elsewhere, according to surveys from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. In the 1990s, job-related moves ebbed and flowed between 20% and 35%, then fell below 20% after 2000. Roughly 10% of job seekers relocated for new opportunities in the first half of this year, Challenger said.

Not on the Move


  • Cost of housing or rent in relocated areas
  • Local work is available
  • Need for kids to stay close to their aging parents
  • Kids living at home have no-cost lodging
  • Skimpy relocation packages
  • Concerns about how long the next gig will last

Add it all up and it simply is not worth the disruption.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (25)
No. 1-11

"...concerns about how long the next gig will last..."

This one explains a lot of trends/phenomena regarding work/employment these days. Workers crave full-time employment, but they are no longer willing to pre-pay loyalty or uproot their families "for the job". Employers can't/don't offer loyalty or promises anymore, and so employees have no choice but to 'return the favor', so to speak...


In todays US economy most employers treat their employees like *hit. As consumers we bear the brunt of the crappy service and products that result from this.


So all the talk of migration out of states like California and New York turns out not to be true. An interviewer told me this week they were getting a lot of resumes from out of state for the job in Northern California but few locally. But refuse to bring me in for an interview as I was deemed too senior. I've been unemployed for 20 weeks now and there is no sign of light even in this economy. Jobs are out there but employers find a reason not to fill jobs. I believe in many cases the jobs actually aren't real openings as when I attempt to trace down people I know in the departments of the openings say there is no funding for new openings.


Yep. They reap what they sow. My last employer is regretting letting me go and debating bringing me back as a consultant. But my price went up after I found this out


Re: Skimpy relocation packages:

When I graduated college in the late '90s, my first gig paid for my relocation AND gave me not one, but two signing bonuses. They sent two guys and a moving truck and drove my furniture 2.5 hours to the new town. Once I was there, my first paycheck had a few extra thousand in it with no strings attached. Sure, the bonuses were taxed at the highest bracket, but I could leave the company immediately and still keep them. It was like being a banker! Unfortunately those days are gone forever for "lowly" IT people.

Nowadays I have much more experience and I hardly know anyone who gets fully (or even partially) paid relocation. Any transition assistance is geared toward H1Bs to help them set up. Still, I feel sorry for a lot of those guys since their managers often take advantage of their tenuous visa status to treat them like garbage. Ah, glorious corporate America.