Moving can be one of the most stressful events in life, although it can also be a great adventure. The option may seem especially tempting today, as some regions have much brighter job prospects than others amid the overall employment slump.
Indeed.com, a job search engine, compiles a list of the most and least competitive job markets. Out of 50 metropolitan areas, the ones with the fewest unemployed people per job posting are Washington; San Jose, Calif.; Baltimore; New York; and Boston. The areas with the worst job prospects are Miami; Los Angeles and Riverside, Calif.; Detroit; and Las Vegas.
But unemployed people in Miami can’t always just pack their bags for Washington. Even if they are willing to move for a job, many are unable to do so — especially if they are homeowners.
Relocation is down across the country because people simply can’t sell their homes, and employers are often unwilling to pick up the cost of a loss on a home, or even the moving expenses, said John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger Gray & Christmas, the outplacement firm.
In fact, the housing crisis has kept unemployment higher than it needs to be because it has curtailed the migration that helps keep the American economy strong, he said. People are also less trusting of companies today, he said — they are leery of taking a big step like moving when they are unsure how secure their new job will be.
As a result, he added, employers in certain industries are having a surprisingly hard time finding workers — for example, in the technology and engineering fields.
In the past, when men tended to be the sole breadwinners, it was much easier for a family to pick up stakes. Now a spouse’s or a partner’s job and job prospects make the moving equation much more complex. And, as always, there is the decision of whether to leave friends and relatives behind, and whether to wrench the children out of school and disrupt their social ties.
Challenger is seeing more people staying where they are — and commuting long distances. Some companies are mitigating this burden by allowing more telecommuting, he said.
More people are “living like a congressman,’’ said Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and author of “The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity.’’
That means they are renting their living quarters during the week for their jobs and traveling home on weekends. Or, he said, they are commuting daily between two metropolitan areas — say, from Detroit to Chicago, or from Pittsburgh to Boston.
These kinds of commutes, in addition to being expensive, must be taking a psychological toll on families, he observed. “Being away from your family support structure,’’ he said, “has got to be very difficult.’’
It stands to reason that single people and renters, whose roots are not yet so deep, find it much easier to relocate for a job. People in their early 20s are three to five times more likely to move than a midcareer person, Florida said.
“For a young person out of college looking for that first job,’’ he said, “it makes a lot of sense to move to a big city that has lots of options and a vibrant labor market.’’
Quality of life — in the form of great restaurants and night life, museums, diversity, and street energy — is also important to people who are seeking to move. Fortunately, he said, cities with those attributes tend to be places that also provide a lot of economic opportunity.
For those who can make the leap, it might make sense to move to a city first and then look for a job, rather than trying to apply for a job from afar. Because of budget constraints, many employers will not even pay to bring out-of-town candidates in for interviews, said Alison Doyle, a job search specialist for About.com (which is owned by the parent of The Boston Globe, The New York Times Co.).
Although video interviewing of out-of-town applicants is on the rise, local applicants still have an edge, she said. So if you have a savings cushion and can temporarily bunk with a family member or friend in your desired area, you may be better off.
But first, do your research. Find out if your target city has the kind of jobs for which you are qualified. You don’t want to move somewhere with a low jobless rate and then find that you don’t have the skills and experience that companies there are seeking, Doyle said.
Job sites like SimplyHired, Indeed, and LinkedIn can be very useful for this kind of research, she said.
Moving to a new city is a momentous decision.
Eventually, after the housing crisis clears, more people can make that decision based on their personal preferences — and the gears of the economy can run more smoothly as more people move into jobs that are right for them.
Phyllis Korkki New York Times November 7, 2010