Recent data from the Census Bureau show that Americans are moving less. In fact, the percentage of Americans that made a move in the last year has more or less steadily declined for over three decades, falling from just over 20% in 1985 to an all-time low of 11.2% in 2016.
For economists, a declining moving rate is concerning because it could be indicative of a US economy that is losing some flexibility and becoming less dynamic. For employers, a less mobile labor force means they may have greater difficulty recruiting workers from other locations to fill their talent needs.
However, this downward trend in mobility is not to say that no one is changing locations. Even with the moving rate at an all-time low, about 26 million American adults made some type of move from 2015 to 2016.
To gain more perspective into the factors that go into the decision to relocate, we surveyed four thousand US workers that started a new job within the past year and asked whether that job required a move to a different location. We found that just greater than one-quarter of our respondents had relocated, with 3% moving from another country and 23% from another state. This moving rate is considerably higher than found in Census Bureau data, possibly due to our survey respondents having started a new job within the past year. Just greater than one-third of our respondents considered moving but did not, while over 38% did not even consider a relocation.
The focus of this blog will be the 23% that had moved to a new state and the 36% that considered the option but did not move. We also segment our survey respondents by generation to examine how the reasons for moving or staying put differ depending on one’s stage in life or their career.
Career is the driving force behind a move the majority of the time
We asked our respondents that moved to a different state for their new job to select the reason that best described why.
Overall, workers are moving for their careers more often than anything else, as long-term career prospects and getting an offer they couldn’t resist account for 45% of those that moved to a new state. Personal reasons play a key role in the decision to move for many as well, selected by nearly a quarter of respondents.
To examine how reasons for relocating differ depending on age we segmented these results by generation, which based on the age categories presented to survey respondents we define as Millennials (ages 18-34), Gen Xers (ages 35-49) and Baby Boomers (ages 50-65).
The decisions to move by Millennials and Gen Xers are more driven by their career. Millennials are the generation most likely to cite long-term career prospects, and ranked second in getting a job offer they couldn’t resist. Out of the three generations Millennials are the least likely to move for personal reasons, possibly a factor of being less likely to have spouses, houses or children, which can factor heavily in such a major life decision. Gen Xers are the generation most likely to move states because of receiving a job offer that they could not resist, which is likely a…