More Than One In Four Job Seekers Willing To Move For A New Job

San Francisco, New York City are top destinations for workers who want to move; Providence, RI and San Jose have the highest percentage of workers applying to other cities.

More than a quarter (28.5 percent) of job applicants on Glassdoor were interested in jobs outside of their current location, according to Metro Movers: Where Are Americans Moving for Jobs, And Is It Worth It? The research identifies the U.S. cities job applicants are most interested in moving to for a job, the cities with the biggest share of job seekers interested in leaving, which factors drive people to move for a new job, and other findings related to who is potentially moving for a new job and why.

job seekers moving
(Credit: Hemera Technologies)

“Picking up your life and moving for a job is a major decision. But in a job market where workers are in high demand and many employers are eager to hire, the employers who understand where talent is heading and what influences them to consider a move will have a recruiting advantage,” said Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, who conducted the study. “Our research shows that employers should think broader when it comes to their recruiting strategies, as the quality talent they want may not only be found in their local market, but across the country.”

Top Destinations: San Francisco and New York City

San Francisco is the top destination among job seekers applying for jobs beyond their current metro (known in the study as metro movers). Of the total metro mover population in the study, 12.4 percent are applying to jobs in San Francisco. Job seekers see opportunities at companies like Facebook and Salesforce within the booming tech hub, overlooking the housing shortages and high cost of living. New York City has the second highest share of metro mover applications (8.4 percent), followed by San Jose (6.9 percent), Los Angeles (6.8 percent) and Washington, DC (4.3 percent). The study found these cities are largely magnets for the job seekers located in smaller cities nearby.

job seekers
(Source: Glassdoor)

Top Cities With Most Workers Moving Away

The college town of Providence, RI topped the list of cities with the highest percentage (52.2 percent) of candidates in the metro applying for jobs elsewhere. Specifically, this means that more than half of job seekers in Providence are applying to jobs in other areas, which would likely require moving to a new city. Three California cities are among the top five including San Jose (47.6 percent), Riverside (47.3 percent) and Sacramento (44.4 percent), respectively, along with Baltimore (45.6 percent). The study finds that many of the people moving away from these cities are gravitating to nearby cities that are larger and more rapidly-growing.

job seekers
(Source: Glassdoor)

Who Is Most Likely to Move?

Company culture is a top factor driving people to move, more so than salary, according to the study. A company with a 1-star higher overall Glassdoor rating is six times more likely to attract a candidate than a company that’s offering $10,000 more in salary, but has a lower culture rating. Salary can help entice workers to move from other cities, but at a much smaller percentage. An extra $10,000 higher base salary predicts applicants are only half a percentage point more likely to move.

Men and young workers are also more likely to move, according to the study. Men are 3.3 percentage points more likely than women to move. Similarly, a job applicant is seven percentage points less likely to move with each passing decade that they age. Based on the data, employers who want to maintain diverse applicant pools need to also reach candidates that are traditionally less likely to move through more attentive recruiting efforts.

“You might expect that more money would be a top factor for job seekers when considering whether to move for a job, but it’s not. Our research shows companies with good culture and employees who love what they do ultimately have a leg-up when it comes to attracting the best talent from across the country,” Chamberlain said. “This means employers must ramp-up their recruiting efforts for groups least likely to move – such as women or more senior workers – and have excellent culture, strong pay or benefits offerings.”

The study is based on a sample of more than 668,000 online job applications started on Glassdoor¹ during a one-week period, from January 8-14, 2018, for the 40 largest metro areas in the U.S. The full study can be found on Glassdoor Economic Research and includes more information about metro movers in the 40 cities examined, metro migration patterns of job seekers, the companies attracting job seekers most among the top cities, and the jobs people are most likely to move for.  

¹ All names and other personally identifying information were removed from resumes before access by researchers.