Why Easier Home Sales Mean Increased Mobility

One of the toughest factors for many workers during the recession was that homes in depressed areas were difficult to sell. But in many metropolitan areas, that trend is changing—and could make talented workers more likely to move to get a better job.

One of the key bellwethers of the economy is showing a pretty good sign for the job market as a whole.

The housing market, which was a key pain point for many people during the recession, is starting to thaw, making it easier for people to sell their homes and—importantly for job recruiters—to relocate to new places.

Could an increase in home sales widen your net for potential talented workers? Or are other factors at play here? More details:

The good news: Along with the declining unemployment rate comes a rise in mobility. Last year, 35.6 million people moved to another part of the country,  increasing the overall rate to 12 percent and making it the first noted rise in four years. “It’s not a huge gain, but when you consider that for two years, we’ve had the lowest migration rates since World War II, any move up is good news,” the Brookings Institution’s William Frey told Reuters. And with rising home prices in many metropolitan areas, one of the structural issues with convincing people to move—the ability to sell their homes, which can keep them locked down—is starting to fade away.

The bad news: As the recession proved, not every part of the country is created equal, and some of those areas remain among the country’s weakest. For example, Las Vegas and Florida, two of the best-known housing weak spots, remain challenged by a depressed housing market. And while there’s certainly a bounce happening, effects from the recession still linger, with nearly 20 percent of mortgages remaining underwater. It’s unclear whether recent developments—like higher payroll taxes or sequestration—could reverse the positive trends currently happening in the economy.

But what about other factors? On the other hand, maybe people just like where they are. Writing on The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, Brad Plumer explains the reasoning here: Basing his insight on a new Federal Reserve study [PDF], he notes that upward mobility may play a major factor in getting people to stay put. “Their working hypothesis is that ‘internal labor markets’ within companies have changed in such a way that workers are less likely to leave,” he notes. “Perhaps that’s because workers are better able to match up with an employer from the outset—thanks to Internet searching, say—so they’re more likely to stay with their company longer.”

When looking to hire new employees, are you finding applicants who are mostly local, or are they looking from farther afield? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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