Fewer Workers Relocating




Take a look at a job application.  As you skim the questions, you will inevitably come across one that asks about relocation.  Most HR professionals recruiting or acquiring talent will tell you, until recently, that question was more of a courtesy than an actual concern.

That has changed.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, fewer U.S. workers are moving around the country to take a new job opportunity.  In 2017, about 3.5 million people relocated for a new job.  In 2015, it was around 3.8 million.  Putting it another way, that change equates to a 10% drop.  Historically, since the bureau started tracking the statistic in 1999, the numbers have fluctuated between 2.8 million and 4.5 million despite a 20% growth in the U.S. population.

What changed?

According to The Wall Street Journal, there are several reasons the U.S. Census Bureau listed as possible explanations for the decrease in the statistic.  Currently, the value of real estate has rebounded, and in doing so, has caused housing costs to increase in places where job growth is abundant such as the East and West coasts.

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In addition, there has been a change in the desire of some workers to not disrupt the lives of their families, even if the pay is better the bureau says.  That includes families with both parents in the home and single/divorced parents.

People with children are less likely to move after a divorce than they were in prior decades, as more parents opt for shared-custody arrangements that include their children living with them for periods of time, according to Thomas Cooke, a demographer at the University of Connecticut who studies U.S. mobility patterns. “Any way you measure it, families are more complex than they used to be,” he said.

Cooke also told the WSJ adults are asking for their children’s input before making any decisions.  They are spending more time on the care of their children.  In fact, a Pew Research Center study found the majority of fathers say parenting is extremely important to their identity; some 57%.  Pew also points out women are a critical piece of the family income equation, and some adults are caring for their parents.

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What does this mean for recruitment or talent acquisition?

In the past, HR professionals assumed moving wasn’t a problem for a job candidate unless otherwise mentioned by the applicant.  Now, it’s safe to say the candidate is almost always concerned, especially if that person has a family.  It’s become standard operating procedure for HR professionals and recruiters to go into interviews and hiring situations asking about the candidate’s spouse and their career and/or about their children’s school needs.

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Mason Stevenson
Editor
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