Panel Paper: Why and Where Do College-Educated Workers Relocate? a U.S. Census Region-Level Analysis

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Marriott Balcony A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Hyungjo Hur and Keumseok Peter Koh, The Ohio State University

Unlike other advanced economies, relocation for work is a common practice in the labor market in the United States, which has one of the highest internal migration rates. The literature has found that there are many determinants impacting job mobility of U.S. college-educated workers, including but not limited to, age, race, family, and professional network. Economic incentives such as wage increase and promotion are also among most influencing factors for work relocation for U.S. college-educated workers. Although the findings in the literature provide important information on work relocation in the US, it is unclear how job-related satisfaction, as a non-economic incentive, impacts work relocation across regions.

The purpose of this study is to examine the spatial patterns and the determinants of college-educated workers’ work relocation across the U.S. Census Regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) in 2013-2015. In terms of the volume of relocation, there was no substantial differences across the regions. Race was an important factor to determine the destinations since blacks were more likely to move to the South from the other regions, while Hispanics preferred to the West and the South, and Asian preferred to the West. A person with higher salary was likely move from Midwest to the two coastal areas (Northeast and West), but less likely to move from Northeast to Midwest or South, and from South to Midwest. In all regions, workers with a graduate degree (Master’s or higher) were more mobile than bachelor’s degree holders. Males moved more than females. A person with children were less likely to relocate from Northwest to South or West, from Midwest to Northeast or West, and from South to Northeast or West.

We also found work relocation was influenced by job satisfaction defined from various perspectives. Workers less satisfied with the current job locations were more likely to relocate. Job satisfaction in terms of job security, intellectual challenge, and advancement opportunity was strongly associated with workers’ mobility. Importantly, workers seeking more opportunities in contribution to society through own jobs were less likely to move implying that sense of community may be an important factor to job mobility among college-educated workers. This study provides important information of workforce mobility among college-educated workers potentially used for future labor and education policies.