Published July 29, 2022

2.8% of Job Seekers Relocated For Positions in Q2

Job seekers’ relocating for new jobs fell to the lowest level on record in the second quarter, as employers continue to offer remote and hybrid positions to attract talent, and the economy falls into a possible recession, according to data released Friday 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.

In the second quarter, 2.8% of job seekers relocated for new positions, according to the survey, down from 4.6% in the first quarter and 3.3% in the second quarter of 2021. It is much lower than the 7.5% of job seekers who moved for positions in the second quarter of 2020, the highest since Q4 2018, when 7.7% of job seekers relocated.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. © | Digital Artist, Nicole Lobdell

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

“Historically, the relocation rate has fallen over time, as companies have opened additional locations, as smaller cities have attracted companies bringing jobs, and as remote work has infiltrated many organizations,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. © | Digital Artist, Nicole Lobdell

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©





“With the exception of the second quarter of 2020, the last two years have seen workers less willing or able to move for positions,” he added.

The reluctance to move could be the result of so many Americans purchasing homes in 2020. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the fourth quarter of 2020 saw 2.1 million more homeowners, the largest increase since the period between 2003 and 2004, according to a report from Pew Research. While the current home ownership rate of 65.4% has fallen from the recent high of 67.8% in the second quarter of 2020, it is still the highest it has been since the second quarter of 2012, when the homeownership rate was 65.5%.

In 2020, an average of 5% of job seekers relocated for positions, down from 5.7% in 2019. Last year, 4.1% of job seekers moved for new positions.

“When lockdowns took effect in 2020, many workers lost jobs and needed to relocate for new positions, while many others wanted to move or buy property, and sought jobs in their new locations. Others purchased homes or relocated and found remote work. Now, workers want the flexibility of remote work and are seeking jobs that allow them to do it,” said Challenger.

What will happen to city centers?

Job seeker relocation rates are falling just as vacancy rates for commercial office buildings hit record highs. According to a report from CommercialEdge, 15.2% of commercial units are vacant nationally, up 20 basis points over last year, with the highest rates in Houston (23.8%), Atlanta (20.3%), Chicago (19.5%), Nashville (18.4%), and Dallas (17.9%). 

With vacancies up and remote and hybrid work persisting, if not permanent, the nation’s large metro areas will likely change dramatically, according to Challenger.

“Office workers help power city centers. Without actual people, restaurants, bars, gyms, daycare centers, and public transportation will all redistribute away from the downtown area,” said Challenger.

One way to bring people back downtown without forcing them to work in an office is to convert commercial office space to livable apartments. However, CommercialEdge found that this conversion of commercial property into rental properties is moving slowly, is not as profitable, and those occurring are mostly in coastal cities targeting luxury renters.

For companies who want to bring workers back to the office, while many remain hesitant due to fears their talent will quit, employers could make the office more enticing, possibly offering Silicon Valley-style perks like exercise classes, free meals, games, or guest speakers.

“It’s certainly possible that the coming recession will flip the power dynamic employees currently enjoy. If companies start cutting back workers, those who have more facetime – the ones leadership actually, physically sees – could have the upper hand when decisions are being made,” said Challenger.

If that comes to pass, he added, workers may want to start going back into the office voluntarily more often to shore up those relationships.

Another option is for those commercial properties to become co-working spaces for remote workers. 

“While workers love working remotely, the option to get dressed, get a coffee, and work in an environment with other people is attractive. This could also help downtown areas from becoming ghost towns during the work day,” said Challenger.

Another possible outcome is that remote work creates city-like pockets in rural and suburban areas. This may result in mass transit, high-speed internet, and bars and restaurants reaching more far flung locations, while decentralizing cities.

“This could be a boon for these areas, since building wide-scale infrastructure will inevitably create thousands of jobs,” said Challenger.

Will remote work last?

“Remote and hybrid work will never go away completely. It’s too convenient for workers, including leaders. However, there are companies who own or lease large office spaces, leaders who miss in-person interactions, and those who work better in structured office environments,” said Challenger.

“Right now, with inflation soaring and a likely downturn coming, the nation’s job seekers seem inclined to stay where they are and not take on the risk of moving for a job,” he added.

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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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Recruiters said these regional differences in office attendance and flexible work were making for a bumpier job market. Andy Challenger, the head of sales and media at the job search firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said he had to be newly attuned to a client’s location. He tends to warn job candidates in Texas that they should be prepared to work from an office, while he tells job candidates in California that they are more likely to be able to work from home. Applicants interested in leadership roles might have to be prepared to take the lead on return-to-office plans by showing up every day.



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