Relocation: A Trend of the Past?

Is Relocation a Trend of the Past? Following the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Considering relocation, the two most important questions we have asked candidates are: (1) Can you relocate? (2) If so, where?

Candidates who were open-minded to relocation were immensely easier to place in new roles because the universe of potential opportunities available to them was exponentially larger than for those who could not.

This had become particularly true during the last decade—as this era has been marked by people having the least amount of mobility since World War II.

Mobility Fallen to Record Lows

This CityLab article says, “In 1985, nearly 20 percent of Americans had changed their residence within the preceding 12 months, but by 2018, fewer than ten percent had. That’s the lowest level since 1948, when the Census Bureau first started tracking mobility.”

According to the article, this is problematic. Declining mobility is cause for concern as it contributes to “less economic dynamism, lower rates of innovation and lower productivity.” National think tank Third Way adds that the decline in mobility also equates to less economic opportunity “in the form of new jobs and higher wages.”

Despite the potential benefit of moving to a high-growth area, people chose not to move.

Why? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Labor markets have become more homogeneous
  • Some employees can work remotely due to technology
  • People are attached to community + family
  • Moving costs or cost-of-living make it prohibitive

Considering this decline in mobility, it makes sense that a job candidate’s willingness to relocate may just be the thing that accelerates her job search.

Are the Times Changing? Maybe Not.

Currently, so-called experts are lining up to say that the post-COVID world will be dominated by the work-from-home (WFH) movement and physical location will cease to matter. My gut instinct is that while this may be true to some degree, I do think people are engaging in a bit of recency bias in reaching that conclusion.

For the foreseeable future, I still predict being willing to relocate will continue to open up more viable possibilities for job seekers.