The XX Factor

Relocating for the Recession: Part Three

Double X’s Emily Bazelon has been writing an ongoing “recessionitis” series on how the recession is affecting family, work, and life. At the end of her last piece , she asked readers whether they’d been forced to move homes, cities, or even countries because of the economic downturn. She’ll be posting her piece with the results next week, but there were too many moving stories to include in one short article. So this week, the On-Ramp will be running serialialzed excerpts of emails from some of those readers who were kind enough to share with us their stories of how the recession has shifted their mobility.

“In August of last year more than 200 people overflowed the largest conference room available in my office in 30 Rockefeller Plaza. We were all told that our job was being outsourced to another provider based in Malvern Pennsylvania. The delivery was so well-crafted most people left with a smile on their face. After digesting the information, and analyzing their incessant requests to not consider the move a ‘layoff’ I began to get suspicious. They promised everyone that if they want to keep their job, they would have a position for them in Malvern. I assume they were expecting most people to decline the offer since most people living in New York would not willingly move to suburban PA for a mediocre job. They even offered a sweetheart deal for most along with several bonuses and a relocation package. Originally I expected a large wave of notices after each retention bonus was paid out, but other than a few people, no one left and waited out until the bitter end. I’m a 23-year-old with no debt or obligations and parents in the immediate area, so I had no objection to hitting up the job market again. I started applying in September and after a few interviews I realized the bonuses I was promised were not reasonably going to be matched by competing firms so I stopped looking until the bonus paid out. A month before the final bonus I started looking for jobs again and noticed a dramatic reduction in the job postings. Not every job posting especially promising but without them I just felt that all hope was lost. Two weeks before my last day with the firm I decided on the whim to forgo the 8 weeks severance I was promised, along with unemployment, for the mediocre job in suburban PA. It took a lot to swallow my pride but at least I’m in good company, as a significant amount of employees took the job. Now I just hope all those large relocation packages my firm offered don’t sink the bank!”-Branko

“In 2006, I changed jobs and moved from the New York suburbs to Atlanta, partly for a job opportunity and partly to be closer to my father, who was having health problems. (He died about six months later.) The small company where I was working ran into financial problems, and I was laid off less than a year after I started. A few months later, I got a job at a larger company that I hoped would be more stable. I moved from Atlanta to Philadelphia. Less than a year later, the company “reorganized” and I was laid off again. I’ve been unemployed since late last year. Happily, I was just offered a new job, and I’m about to move to Washington DC. I’m hoping that will be my last move for a while! Even though I was glad to find new jobs in new cities, moving has some significant down sides. After I was laid off the last time, I had some health problems. My family was far away, and since I’d only been here a few months, I hadn’t made any close friends yet. Most of the people I’d met were co-workers, and many of them had been laid off as well, and had moved to find new jobs. It was very hard to be in the hospital and have no one close to me to call on for help. It made me realize how important it is to have people around you who care about you, something that’s difficult if you have to move every year or two. Phone calls and email aren’t the same. I’m hoping that my next job will be more long lasting, and I’ll be able to meet people and settle down in my new city. “-Karen

“The reason I’m writing: I’m part of a distinct demographic of young individuals who have left my home state in droves. I’m a former video and television producer and even used to do my job directly for the government of Michigan and helped our Governor tape video messages imploring young folks like myself to stay. I was an intern, and my need for health insurance and benefits started to become an issue. The state didn’t have the ability to hire me full time. So off to the private sector I went; working at a TV station in Lansing, MI making the saddest TV commercials ever for G.M. and Hummer dealers who couldn’t sell their wares, with an office window that looked across the street at a G.M. assembly plant being torn down. I shotgunned my resume and went from the state of highest unemployment to one of the lowest–Wyoming. I was gobbled up by a high tech/video production hybrid firm that provides stock footage and makes iPhone apps for NCAA sports and all sorts of high end video logistics. I guess my story is this: I couldn’t find a job in Michigan if I tried. Even the people who WANTED to hire me couldn’t, and even Governor Granholm who wanted to keep a burgeoning creative class in state couldn’t pull any strings - the money and bureaucratic agility just weren’t there.”-Craig