Published May 16, 2024

Challenger Relocation Report May 2024

Job seekers’ relocating for new jobs fell to 1.5% in the final quarter of 2023, the lowest level on record as interest rates remained high and housing inventory low. However, in the first quarter of 2024, 2.4% of all job seekers relocated for new positions, and 3.7% of job seekers making over $200,000 moved for new jobs, according to data released Thursday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The data comes from a survey of over 3,000 job seekers across the country the firm conducts quarterly.

“Currently, companies are in cost-savings mode and conducting layoffs, particularly of higher wage-earners. We’re also seeing several employers recalling workers to the office. The combination of these factors is resulting in a higher rate of workers moving for jobs,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President and economic expert for Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Quarterly numbers and annual average comparisons of the rate of job seekers relocating for work from 2018 to Q1 of 2024. Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The 2.4% relocation rate remains historically low, according to Challenger’s Quarterly Index. It is the third lowest quarterly rate on record, behind Q4 2023 and Q1 2023 (1.6%).

“It’s not surprising that the higher wage earners are more likely to move for new jobs. Positions offering $200,000 or more often come with a relocation package, and even if not, job seekers at that level can typically afford the considerable costs to move,” said Challenger.

Historical Perspective: Relocation Rates in Context

The rate of relocation has fallen since the 1980s and 1990s as companies have opened more locations in rural areas and people have moved into city centers and surrounding suburb where job opportunities are typically plentiful. The prevalence of remote work spiked during and after the pandemic, resulting in even fewer reasons for job seekers to move for new positions.

Quarterly numbers for the rate of job seekers relocating for work since 1986 to 2023. Average rate of yearly time periods measured quarterly and annual average comparisons. Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

However, the number of job openings are down by over a million, year over year, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and workers are less likely to quit their jobs. The economy added 175,000 jobs in April, the lowest total since October 2023 when 164,000 jobs were added, according to the BLS’s employment situation.

“With the job market loosening, those who are able to financially will take the position that requires a move,” said Challenger.

Generational Perspectives on Job Relocation

Despite the slight bump in relocation, it is unlikely job seekers will ever relocate at the rate they did in past decades, as technological advancements and generational shifts continue to shape the workforce.

Younger generations, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, often prioritize job flexibility and work-life balance, which remote work supports. While older workers, who are more established in their communities and more likely to own homes, are also less likely to relocate.

“The future of work will continue to evolve, with remote and hybrid models becoming deeply entrenched. Even with the current trend of return-to-office mandates, workers already know most jobs can be done remotely. That genie is out of the bottle,” said Challenger.

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Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.


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