Looking for work now that the jobless rate is at a 49-year-low?

Chances are you’re not considering relocating, and nor are the vast majority of American workers. Only around 10% of people seeking out a new job in the U.S. chose to relocate for work during 2018, according to a recent report from staffing firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. That’s down from 11.2% in 2017 and 11% in 2016. One theory: Nearly half-a-million people stopped looking for work in April.

That’s a far cry from the 1980s when more than 40% of job seekers relocated for new positions across the U.S. While the share of workers moving for jobs has decreased relatively steadily over the last four decades, the Great Recession triggered significant declines in people relocating for work as there were simply fewer jobs available.

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“The dot-com bubble that left companies flush with cash in the second half of the 1990s, allowing them the potential to offer generous relocation packages to attract talent, burst in 2000,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, said in the report. “As companies found themselves in cost-cutting mode, it seems many chose to find local candidates and spare the expense of relocation reimbursement in the years following,” he said.

The tight labor and real-estate markets may be dampening people’s desire and ability to move for work. With unemployment at the lowest rate in years, workers now face a buyer’s market when it comes to searching for a job. What’s more, new technology has allowed an increasing number of people to work remotely, which reduces the need to move even further. “Job seekers don’t have to leave the security of their homes to find new employment,” Challenger said.

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In recent years, more workers have begun working remotely. Between 2012 and 2016, the share of employees who spend 80% or more of their time working remotely grew from 24% to 31%, according to a recent survey from Gallup. Some 59% of business executives said that more than half of their companies’ full-time workforce would be remote by 2020, per the results of a 2014 survey at London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit.

More workers taking advantage of flexible working practices. The competitive real-estate market could also be dissuading people from taking a risk and moving elsewhere in search of work. Both house prices and rents are on an upward trajectory, recent studies show. In the past, rising home prices created an extra opportunity for job seekers who chose to relocate: Not only could they get better work, but they also could cash out on their real-estate investment.

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But now the shrinking desire to move, coupled with muted home-building activity, is contributing to a major supply crunch in housing markets across the country. That has led to bumper price growth in many popular markets. They stand to reap the benefits of their investment if they sell, but because other people aren’t selling or moving, they may have nowhere to move to.

At the same time, mortgage rates have risen in recent months, meaning many homeowners are now “rate-locked” because they would have to take out a loan with a higher interest rate if they chose to move. “There’s not as much churn and turnover,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “That’s creating less opportunity for buyers and sellers in the market.”

(This story was updated on May 3, 2019.)

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