Fewer Americans Are Willing to Move for a Job

August 21, 2018

Fewer Americans are willing to uproot their lives to move for new job opportunities, suggests new census data.

About 3.5 million Americans relocated for a new job last year, a 10 percent drop from 3.8 million in 2015. The number has been trending lower, despite the overall population increasing 20 percent over that time, The Wall Street Journal reports.


© xixinxing - Fotolia.com

Why are more people staying put? Experts told WSJ that some blame may rest on rebounding real estate values. Housing costs have soared higher in some regions where jobs may be more plentiful, like East and West Coast cities, but it may be pricing out some who may have otherwise been willing to relocate.

Also, more adults are making decisions with their children’s input, and that may also be part of their reluctance to disrupt friendships or routines, says researcher Thomas Cooke, who studies U.S. mobility patterns and is also a sociologist at the University of Connecticut. The number of adults caring for aging parents has grown, too. Women also are contributing more to family’s incomes in recent years—this may make it more difficult to move to a new area for only one spouse’s job.

“Such trends are chipping away at the once-common pattern of families following careers—typically the husband’s—and changing how workers think about distant job opportunities,” WSJ reports.

The share of job seekers relocating has decreased significantly since the late 1980s. In the 1980s, more than a third would move to take new job opportunities elsewhere, according to surveys from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an outplacement firm. Only about 10 percent of job seekers relocated in the first half of this year, Challenger told WSJ.

John Toey, a principal with Salveson Stetson Group Inc., an executive search firm, told WSJ that he used to assume job candidates would be willing to move when he interviewed for jobs.

“Now we go into the situation thinking it probably is an issue, so we need to bring it up,” he says. He notes the conversations have gotten much more in-depth about having to discuss job seekers’ spouse’s careers and their children’s school needs—“the whole life situation of the candidate,” he says.

Fewer Americans Uproot Themselves for a New Job,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 20, 2018) [Log-in required.]