Job seekers are on the move.

Position:Employment

The percentage of job seekers relocating for new positions rose to its highest level in five years, as ongoing improvements in the employment and housing markets made moving for employment a more palatable option for those in transition. An average of 15% of job-seeking managers and executives moved for new positions over the last two quarters of 2014, according to a report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., Chicago, Ill. That was up from an average of 11.4% in the first two quarters of the year. In 2013, the relocation rate among job seekers averaged 13%.

The latest relocation rate is the highest it has been since the first half of 2009, when an average of 16.3% of job seekers moved in the immediate wake of the Great Recession. "Relocation activity plunged after the first half of 2009 as home values continued to decline, which made it virtually impossible to sell an existing home without taking a significant loss. The housing market is still recovering in most regions, but the progress made clearly is encouraging more job seekers to expand their searchers geographically," says CEO John A. Challenger.

"Relocation is rarely the most desirable option for job seekers. 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."

A report from the National Association of Realtors indicates that a majority of metropolitan areas experienced steady year-over-year gains in home prices in the fourth quarter of 2014. The Association attributed slightly stronger price growth to a decline in housing supply and an uptick...

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