Americans have never been so unwilling to relocate for a new job

Can’t move, won’t move. That’s increasingly the approach of Americans who are in the market for a new job.

The share of job seekers who relocated to take up a new position fell to 1.6%, the lowest level on record, in the first quarter of 2023, according to a quarterly survey that’s been carried out by executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. for decades.

Behind the shift in attitudes lies a post-pandemic surge in remote and hybrid positions, which has made it possible for more workers to stay where they’re living even as they change jobs. What’s more, higher interest rates have made buying a house somewhere else more expensive — especially when it also requires people to sell an existing home that’s financed with a mortgage locked in at low costs. 

And all of that comes on top of longer-term trends that have seen U.S. workers grow steadily more reluctant to relocate — perhaps because diminishing job security has made the costs of moving house seem like less of a safe investment.

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Employees work at the Workday Inc. office in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Workday makes applications that help companies with mundane tasks like keeping payroll, plotting expenses, tracking employee absences and managing job candidates.

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“In the 1980s and 90s, nearly a third of job seekers would move for new positions,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Now, remote and hybrid positions are keeping workers at home.”

About one-third of U.S. companies say most of their workers are in the office, according to Challenger — up from just 13% last fall. Still, many workers are digging in their heels and refusing to come back.

Fewer than half of workers went to the office in 10 of the largest US business districts in the week ended May 10, according to data from Kastle Systems, a office key-fob firm.

The Challenger data comes from a survey of over 3,000 job seekers across the country.


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