Americans Don’t Move, Partly Due To Remote Work Programs

In 2016, the percentage of Americans moving over a one-year period fell to a historic low.

Just 11.2% of Americans made a move last year, according to these tables released by the U.S. Census Bureau in November of last year. In 1948 – well before the age of budget airliners and travel blogs – Americans moved at a rate of 20.2%.

Some attribute Americans’ immobility to the Great Recession – some regions of the country have been in a housing slump since 2008 – but that doesn’t explain why renters are staying put.

Of those who relocated in 2016, only one-fifth cited employment concerns as a reason for relocation.  A 2016 PWC study on workplace trends found that 38% of U.S. employees can work remotely at least one day a week.

Could the rise of remote work programs be contributing to Americans’ reluctance to leave their communities? 

There’s something about the (dis)organizational frenzy of moving which can leave the best of us reaching for the whiskey.

There’s the de-cluttering, the donating of unused and overused items, liaising with moving vendors, and praying that the couch will fit down the hallway and in the elevator.

I have lost many a couch to a skinny hallway or elevator.

It’s not just the inconveniences of moving day: relocation is an expensive hassle that often involves uprooting ourselves from a known to an unknown situation – a new house or apartment, neighborhood, and community.

A 2015 UK survey placed relocation as life’s most stressful event – over divorce, relationship breakups, or starting a new job.

Moving means finding new jogging routes, bodegas, go-to takeout spots, food trucks, schools (if we have kids), doctors and vets, grocery stores. Upon a move, friendship circles realign or even zero out if we move to a new city.

Home? Or on holiday? 

Relocating employees is also expensive for employers.  Approximately 70% of employers cover relocation expenses for current employees or new hires.  This is good news for relocation companies – companies spend, on average, approximately $25 billion on relocation each year – but bad news for employers who require a physically present work force.

Working from home isn’t just for freelancers, creatives, tech professionals, or customer service employees.  As an executive recruiter, I have spoken to hundreds of high-level employees forced into a job search because their location-dependent employer requires them to relocate.

Earlier this year, job search site FlexJobs released their list of the 100 Top Companies offering Remote Jobs for 2017.  While industries like tech and human resources proliferate, companies like Nielsen, JP Morgan Chase, and The American Heart Association also made the list.

Some company websites are more user-friendly than others when it comes to identifying remote roles, and many of the companies on the list, such as LiveOps, only offer remote work opportunities to employees in sales or tech, as well as call center staff.

World Travel Holdings, a global cruise agency, offers remote employees a computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, phone and headset – though they do deduct from each remote employee’s payroll a $500 deposit.  More information can be found at their careers site here.  As of today, the only job under their “US-Remote” category is for an SEO Specialist.

Global data measurement company Nielsen offers a “Remote, United States” category on the job search portion of their website.  As of today, there are nine roles that satisfy the “Remote, United States” criteria, including two roles at the VP level: VP of Sales Effectiveness, and VP of eCommerce Product Leadership.

Xerox offers (at the time of this blog post) 72 remote opportunities on their Careers website for applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree, 11 of which are Manager-level roles.  Click here to navigate, and select “Yes” under the Virtual Office filter before running your search.

While the bulk of remote opportunities are still confined to certain fields, we’ve come along way since the nineties, when only nine percent of U.S. workers were remote.

January 1, 2017 on the 2nd Avenue Subway. As good as a train ride will get.

Many have argued that residential mobility is a major contributing factor to an individual’s economic prospects, as well as the economic vigor of our communities. Remote work programs enhance a professional’s ability to move about the country – or the world – at will. Or, not, if that’s what he or she so chooses.




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