PhotoThere 's been a slight uptick in the percentage of job seekers moving for new employment in the first half of the year.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that in the first two quarters of 2016, an average of 11.3% of job seekers have relocated for new positions. The relocation rate reached 12% in the second quarter -- the highest percentage since the final three months of 2014, when 15% of job seekers found work in new towns.

“The number of metropolitan areas experiencing labor shortages is growing,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “As it does, employers in these areas will have to seek candidates from beyond the borders of the local talent pool. Job seekers who are willing to pull up stakes and relocate for new opportunities are finding welcoming arms.”

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show 108 metropolitan areas with unemployment rates below 4.0%, including such major cities as San Francisco, Dallas, Denver, Boston, and Cleveland.

“When the unemployment rate gets in the 3% to 4% range, it becomes extremely difficult to find any available workers, let alone ones with the particular experience and skill set required for unfilled job openings. So, employers have to cast a wider net,” said Challenger.

Making it worthwhile

Simply seeking candidates from other cities and towns is not enough. Most people don't want to go through the hassle of relocating. Companies, according to Challenger, will have to offer a bigger carrot to entice candidates.

A keyword search on reveals that there are currently more than 25,600 job postings on the site indicating “paid relocation” incentives.

The 2016 Atlas Van Lines Corporate Relocation Survey found that 89% of employers offer some type of relocation reimbursement to new hires. More than one-third (36%) of respondents indicated that they provide full reimbursement for moving expenses, while another 38% offer partial reimbursement that varies based on factors such as salary and position.

“Even with incentives, relocation is rarely the most desirable option for job seekers,” said Challenger. “There is a lot of risk involved and costs can often exceed what the new employer is willing to pay. This is why we typically never see relocation rates top 20%, even when business and economic conditions are at their best.”

Getting help

If there are professional associations related to your occupation or industry, Challenger advises joining the local chapter in your new area. Charitable and service organizations are another way to expand your social and professional network.

Do not overlook your new neighbors, either. “Making new friends and getting to know people in your new area will not only make the transition easier,” Challenger noted, adding that “these are the people who will help you if your new employment situation does not work out.”

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