Tyler Cowen is wondering why job mobility is so low, given the variability in unemployment rates across the country. He writes:
"I find it striking that American mobility peaked sometime in the 1980s. Today there are people moving to find jobs, but not at anything like previous levels in earlier downturns. Some of that results from "the problems are in many different places" and that's bad news. But some of it is also "being jobless today involves some greater cushions than in earlier times." Very few people are facing potential starvation. For instance many more men have working spouses. Durable goods have become more durable, or in other words your car is less likely to break down and that makes joblessness somewhat easier to bear."
This isn't all that confusing - much of this is due to housing conditions. Even if you're not underwater you've still taken a hit on the value of your home, so you're going to be more reluctant to sell. Selling is even less attractive because the areas with stronger job markets you would expect people to move into are precisely the areas that had less precipitous drops in the housing market (so moving in these areas from where you are is relatively more expensive than it was before the crisis).
That's the big story when it comes to job mobility. A more structural explanation, I would imagine, is the rise in dual-income households. Even if one person is unemployed it's likely to make more sense to stay where you are with one earner than move somewhere where you'd both need new jobs.
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