Why Aren’t Workers Moving as Much?

Statistics show that workers aren’t moving out of their home states in search of better jobs like they used to. Is that good or bad? NC State University economist Mike Walden talks about how economists interpret the slowdown.

“Well, this is one of those issues that actually has economists scratching their heads, because we don’t really know what’s happened. We do know that people are not moving as much in search of new jobs.

“Now some of that may be demographics. We are now an older society. The average age of a worker is older, and people tend to not move as much as they age. That makes sense and that could be a factor.

“Another factor may be it’s a holdover of the recession. I mean, again, the recession that we went through was so, so bad. People who had jobs got scared and said, ‘Hey, if I try to change jobs, maybe I won’t get a new job. So I better hold onto the one I have.’

“So some economists think that that feeling is sort of lingering — that workers are still fearful, that they don’t want to take a leap and go somewhere else because they may not find a job, so they keep what they have.

“So this is going to be interesting to see how the trends change. One thing we do know is that it is important for workers to be mobile, because things change in the country. Jobs grow in one area; they decline in another area. So it’s important for workers to be able to move from where jobs are not as plentiful to where jobs are more plentiful. So we do want to see these numbers go up ultimately. We’ll have to wait and see if they do.”

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