Relocating Now More Of A Chore

Posted: January 17, 1995

Once upon a time, most workers saw relocation as a step up as well as a step away. But times have changed.

And as more workers have spouses who are also working, they are beginning to see relocating as more hassle than it's worth, according to a study released yesterday.

In dual-income families, 42 percent said their standard of living fell

because of a spouse's relocation, according to a worldwide survey of 101 organizations that was conducted by the University of Tennessee and Right Associates of Philadelphia, a consulting firm that specializes in career management and corporate restructuring.

The study says that in 1994, fewer than half of all corporate or business transfers meant more money for the employee who moved. The percentage of transfers that were accompanied by raises dropped from 62 percent in 1987 to 39 percent in 1994.

And the spouses who followed the transferred worker? More than half of all the "trailing spouses" who managed to find work in the new location wound up getting less pay and fewer benefits.

Forty percent of the trailing spouses said they had changed the type of work they had been doing, and 32 percent said their new jobs were lower in career-status.

Along with reduced pay and benefits, the trailing spouses also averaged about five months of unemployment - even though more than a third said they would be willing to take a job for which they were over-qualified, and almost half were at least willing to consider doing so.

More than half of all the trailing spouses said they would be looking for new jobs within the year. But at the same time, only one-fifth reported receiving help looking for work from their spouse's company. More than four- fifths said they would want that kind of help in any future move.

"While the employees surveyed showed what might be referred to as company spirit, they were not at all certain that the organization was reciprocating, and they showed clear signs of dissatisfaction and restlessness," the report says.

Quoting from the Journal of Career Development, the Right Associates study says: "The partnership between business and the family has emerged as the new corporate challenge. . . . Nowhere is this emerging partnership more needed than in employee relocation."

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