Relos Down; Weak Economy Blamed

April 26, 2002 ( - Fewer employers are footing the bill to relocate prized workers, which researchers in a new study say means that they're finding the talent they need in their local areas.

According to Atlas, there was “a marked drop” between 2000 and 2002 in the number of hiring managers who said they agreed to pay relocation expenses because they couldn’t find suitable candidates locally.

That was a key finding of a three-year comparison of Atlas Van Line’s Corporate Relocation Survey designed to examine the reasons behind the “dwindling” number of company-paid moves.

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For example, the number of people mentioning the still weak US economy as a factor in their decisions about whether to import workers “escalated considerably” during the three survey years.

On average, 59% of participants in the 2000 survey said the economy had an impact on employee relocation during the previous year, compared to 77% who said in the 2002 survey that they decided against a relocation because of the struggling economy.

Atlas said the growing impact of economic concerns on decisions about whether to conduct a relocation was most evident with small companies where 82% mentioned the economy in 2002, far ahead of the 50% who did so in the 2000 study.

Some 10% of participants said the September 11 terrorist attacks cut into the amount of corporate relocations. Atlas said future surveys would include a terrorism category.

Corporate Growth Less a Relocation Factor

Another trend evident in the Atlas data, researchers said, is that fewer hiring managers are paying for relocations for workers being brought on board as part of a corporate growth spurt.

Three quarters of those in the 2000 study cited growth as reason they relocated workers while only 37% mentioned company expansion two years later.

Also decreasing, as reasons for relocations are facility expansions and moves into new territories, which Atlas said have “dropped significantly” since 2000.

The moving firm also cited a “sharp drop” in the number of times companies mentioned promotions and resignations as affecting the number of relocations – three quarters cited promotions and resignations in 2000 while only 38% did so two years later.

Atlas also pointed out a falloff in the number of companies who had employees decline a relocation. “Family issues” were the number one reason employees gave for their decision.

There was a big decrease in transfers from the US to a foreign country and an even larger cut in relocations coming the other way.
This year’s data were compiled from the responses of 302 participating companies.

View the full 2002 Atlas Van Lines Corporate Relocation Survey