Relocation Trends

(April 07, 2009) This is a really good time to figure out the future of your workforce. The downturn changes a lot of things. If you’re still at your desk (and lots of folks in HR are gone), start wondering and planning. After this is all over, we’re going to be living in a different world and we are going to have to recover.

We’re a nation of movers.

Most Americans have moved to a new community at least once in their lives, although a notable number — nearly four-in-ten — have never left the place in which they were born. Asked why they live where they do, movers most often cite the pull of economic opportunity. Stayers most often cite the tug of family and connections. (Pew.Who Moves? Who Stays Put? Where’s Home? full report)

But, the rate at which we move has dropped by 40% since 1986. From 20% to 11.9%.  (Pew. Who Moves? Who Stays Put? Where’s Home? full report)  The Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey indicates that the number of people who moved between 2007 and 2008, 34 million, was the lowest since 1959-60, when the population of the U.S. was 41% smaller than it is now.

Generally, the more affluent and educated, the more likely you are to move. But, “57% say they have not lived in the U.S. outside their current state: 37% have never left their hometown and 20% have left their hometown (or native country) but not lived outside their current state.”

A Population Refence Bureau Survey shows the correlation between High Unemployment rate and net migration. When unemployment is up, people move to find work.

High unemployment rates are not just creating a drag on the U.S. economy, but are also linked to lagging population growth in economically distressed areas, according to a PRB analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Between 2007 and 2008, the population in distressed counties—areas with unemployment rates of 6 percent or more in 2007—grew 0.3 percent, compared with a 1.2 percent growth rate in areas with relatively low unemployment (less than 4 percent). Nationwide, the population grew 0.9 percent during 2007-2008. (PRB: U.S. Regional Population Losses Linked to High Unemployment)

The takeaway is that high net worth, well educated individuals leave the places they live when economic times get tough. At the very same time, age is reducing mobility in general.

What you can know for certain is that this economy is changing the talent pool in your town. If you live in a place that is both young and has high unemployment, things are going to change fast.

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