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October 24, 2001
Relocation on the Wane
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nks to security fears and the slumping economy, companies are asking fewer workers to relocate and the ones who are asked increasingly say no, according to USA Today.

The newspaper cites a study from Runzheimer International showing that nearly a third of organizations have reduced the number of workers being relocated.

The trend became evident even before Sept. 11. Fifty percent of companies report that one or more employees in 2000 turned down a relocation, according to a survey by Atlas Van Lines. That's up sharply from 39 percent of firms that had a relocation declined the year before.

Employees are more eager to stay closer to home and extended family in the wake of the terrorist attacks, and the surge in layoffs since Sept. 11 has inspired fears that moving for work is risky because no job is secure.

The newspaper gives additional reasons:

Relocation packages are less generous. Employers trying to cut costs are trimming relocation perks, which makes moving less attractive. Fewer companies are willing to buy an employee's house, experts say, or cover real-estate commissions. About 60 percent of employers say their relocation budgets either stayed the same or decreased, according to Atlas.

Rising home values. Employees are refusing to sell their homes, relocation experts say, because they're less willing to risk it all for a job in today's economic climate.

"There's more of a reluctance. The employees who are relocating aren't selling their homes. They're renting their houses, so they have a place to come back to," says Sandy Lee, chief operating officer at Plus Relocation Services in Minneapolis.

Real estate investments also are something they want to keep, she says, because home values have increased, while stock portfolios have shrunk.

Layoffs and more layoffs. Those who are willing to move are requesting that employers agree to pay for their return home if their job is cut. Some are getting agreements in writing.

"People in midmanagement and higher are more likely to ask for the new employer to agree to return them if it doesn't work out," says Atlas spokesman Steve Mumma. "It's a more asked-for perk."

To be sure, employees in some industries or geographical regions especially hard hit by the slowdown may have no choice but to move. But experts say the overall trend is toward more reluctance, especially because other jobs still can be found without moving.

To view the USA Today article, click here.

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