After rising to its highest level in nearly two years during the first half of 2011, the percentage of job seekers relocating for new positions dropped to a near record low to finish out the year. The latest data provides further evidence that one of the biggest obstacles to economic recovery could be the lack of mobility among the nation’s unemployed.
Over the last two quarters of 2011, an average of just 7.5 percent of job seekers finding employment relocated for their new positions. That is down nearly two points from an average relocation rate of 9.4 percent in the first two quarters of the year. It was slightly lower than the same period in 2010, when 7.7 percent of job seekers relocated for new positions.
The relocation data released by global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. is based on a quarterly survey of approximately 3,000 job seekers, many of whom are managers and executives, from a wide range of industries and occupations nationwide.
“It appeared that relocation was beginning to bounce back after plunging in the wake of the housing market collapse and the deep recession that followed. However, the latest numbers indicate that picking up stakes remains a last resort for the majority of job seekers, many of whom are unwilling to take a loss on the sale of a home for a position that may or may not last,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The percentage of job seekers relocating plunged in the wake of the housing collapse. Since the fourth quarter of 2009, the quarterly relocation rate has averaged just 7.9 percent. In contrast, an average of 15.7 percent of job seekers relocated for new positions each quarter in the pre-recession period from 2005 through 2007. Even during the onset and throughout most of the recession, from 2008 through the third quarter of 2009, the relocation rate averaged 13.2 percent.