Number of movers relocating for a job at 5-year high

CHICAGO – Feb. 24, 2015 – The percentage of job seekers relocating for new positions in the last half of 2014 rose to its highest level in five years, as ongoing improvements in the employment and housing markets made moving for employment a more desirable option.

An average of 15 percent of job-seeking managers and executives moved for new positions over the last two quarters of 2014, according to the new report from outplacement consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. – an increase from 11.4 percent in the first two quarters. In 2013, the relocation rate among job seekers averaged 13 percent.

The latest relocation rate is the highest it’s been since the first half of 2009, when an average of 16.3 percent of job seekers moved in the immediate wake of the recession.

“Relocation activity plunged after the first half of 2009 as home values continued to decline, (making) it virtually impossible to sell an existing home without taking a significant loss,” says John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The housing market is still recovering in most regions, but the progress made last year … is encouraging more job seekers to expand their searchers geographically.”

The Challenger relocation rate is based on a quarterly survey of approximately 1,000 job seekers.

“Relocation is rarely the most desirable option for job seekers,” says Challenger. “There is a lot of cost and risk involved. The collapse in the housing market, which was a primary factor behind the recession, made relocation even more unattractive, as many job seekers were stuck in homes with market values well below what was owed on the mortgage. Starting in 2013, we saw a rebound in home buying and home prices. That trend continued in 2014, leading to the upturn in relocation among job seekers.”

The number of cities with low unemployment continues to grow. In December, 158 metropolitan areas had unemployment rates below 5.0 percent. Only 78 metro areas could say the same, a year earlier.

“At the end of last year, there were more than 70 metropolitan areas with an unemployment rate of 4.0 percent or lower,” says Challenger. “That number is growing every month. Employers in these areas are undoubtedly struggling to find workers from the local talent pool. So, for job seekers who are willing to relocate, the list of cities with good opportunities keeps getting longer.”

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