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Relocations Among Job Seekers Hit a Record Low

Once upon a time, roughly a third of job seekers would practically pounce on the opportunity to relocate to a different city for a new job, but that trend, seen in the 1980s and ‘90s, is now in the rearview mirror. A mere 1.6 percent of job seekers changed locations to take on new positions in the first quarter of 2023, according to a survey from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., marking the lowest level on record. The figure is a big decline from the 3.7 percent who pulled up stakes in the fourth quarter of 2022 and denotes a year-over-year drop from 4.6 percent. Respondents to the survey are no less adventurous than their job-seeking counterparts of decades past, but they are saddled with a high-price housing market amid rising interest rates, making the idea of finding housing in another city less than desirable. Additionally, employers are moving to where the talent pools are located, so for many job seekers, new work opportunities are already sited in their own market. And there may be another reason for job seekers’ reluctance to relocate out of town, and that is the preference for remote positions, which have dropped in availability, giving way to hybrid work models that call for an increasing number of days in the office.

Interest rates are not going to make a big retreat anytime soon and the housing market remains a challenge, so it appears that workers are going to be staying put for some time. This has implications for the office market as companies might struggle to get people to relocate for their jobs. Currently, corporations look at things like tax rates and local incentives when it comes to choosing a new office location. But now companies might be less interested in what they can save by moving to areas looking to attract employers and more interested in finding where their desired type of talent lives so they won’t have to attempt the increasingly difficult task of convincing them to relocate.

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