Move it on over

There was a time when Americans were mobile. Now, not so much. Here's what companies are doing as a result. Plus, 7 other things worth a click.

Historically, Americans have moved around a lot.

  • In the 1800s, we moved from the eastern states to the west.

  • In the early 20th century, African Americans especially moved from the south to the north.

  • People moved away from the Great Plains, and more recently, Americans moved toward the Sun Belt, and away from California.

But even more recently, we stopped moving.

Statistically speaking (and this is really counterintuitive), we're more likely to be born, live, work, and die in more or less the same place than at any time in the last 70 years.

It's tough to pinpoint why, but it's especially frustrating to businesses that need to hire more people, even for lower wage, less skilled jobs.

And that's why an increasing number of companies are paying people to move to work for them.

Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal tackled this story, especially as it relates to manufacturing jobs. During the past year for example, the number of manufacturing job ads on ZipRecruiter offering paid relocation has increased by 60 percent.

“It pretty much gave me enough cash to pay for gas out here, get myself established with a solid place to live in a not-backwater part of Omaha, and then I got a couple of shirts with collars on them,” said Charlie Shoup, who moved from Utah to Nebraska for a job with Columbus Hydraulics Co., which paid $2,000 in relocation expenses.

Mr. Shoup made $13 an hour in Utah, and more than double that with his new job in Nebraska. So you can see why he'd move.

Beyond that, examples dug up by the Journal:

  • Caterpillar Inc. is paying up to $5,000 in moving expenses for electricians and machine maintenance staff.

  • Raytheon Co. pays up to $5,000 in moving costs for a $17-an-hour job operating machinery in Arizona.

  • New Way Trucks pays $1,000 to anyone who moves near its plant in Scranton, Iowa.

  • Lockheed Martin Corp. "highlights jobs that offer relocation benefits on its website."

  • G.H. Tool & Mold, in Missouri, pays relocation expenses plus $18 an hour for factor workers, and posts job ads on a Facebook group called "“Leaving Illinois.”

It's amazing to think what a fairly small outlay like this can do to change the calculus for some workers. I think of my own experience.

When I moved to Washington after law school for work, expenses were not included. So, I ran up moving expenses on my Discover Card, at some ridiculous interest rate.

I did it anyway, but it hurt. At least I was in a position to do it. And even though the job didn’t turn out to be the dream I’d hoped for, moving to a new part of the United States for me was a net positive.

We're such a divided country now, that I think anything that gets us to move around and mingle a bit is probably a good thing. Even if it costs a few thousand dollars to get us to do it.

7 other things worth a click

  1. Parked next to the Tesla CyberTruck: GM says it’s releasing an electric Hummer pickup truck. (TechCrunch)

  2. A man survived weeks alone in the Alaska wilderness, and was rescued by state troopers after caring “SOS” in the snow. (Alaska State Troopers)

  3. Two popes: Retired Pope Benedict coauthored a book that contradicts Pope Francis’s recent movement on the idea of married priests. (National Catholic Reporter)

  4. I wrote this over the weekend, and about 250,000 people read it: “People Who Use These 5 Toxic Phrases Have Very Low Emotional Intelligence.” (Me, on Inc.)

  5. Texas school district loses millions in a phishing scam. (CNN)

  6. High school junior, interning at NASA, discovers a new planet on his third day. (The Washington Post)

  7. A Japanese billionaire who will be the first paying passenger on a SpaceX rocket says he’s looking for a girlfriend to go with him. (The Verge)

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