Workforce woes drove corporate relocations in 2005

While general economic conditions show signs of improvement, companies are hurting for qualified employees; natural disasters play a bigger role; relocations set to rise in 2006.

April 25, 2006

Media Contacts:
Barbara Cox, Atlas Van Lines, 800.638.9797, ext. 2275
A.J. Schneider, Hetrick Communications

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Large companies cited a lack of local qualified people as the most important factor impacting corporate relocations in 2005, according to a new survey released today by Atlas Van Lines. It's a trend that's likely to continue in 2006. Nearly 30 percent of survey respondents say their relocations will rise in 2006 with relocation budgets following suit.

The employment squeeze is a growing trend that eclipsed other economic conditions for the first time in four years. In 2003, only 23 percent of large companies listed an inadequate workforce as a driving force behind relocations. That number nearly doubled to 44 percent in 2004 and hit 51 percent in 2005.

Corporate relocation professionals across the country revealed these and other trends related to domestic and international relocation and relocation policy in Atlas' 39th Annual Corporate Relocation Survey. The results of the survey will be presented to a group of industry professionals — top managers in corporate relocation, transportation and logistics — and van line representatives during Atlas' annual Forum on Moving, April 27 and 28 in Philadelphia.

"The news continues to be very positive for the relocation industry with more companies going out of their way to bring in the best and brightest employees from outside their regions," said Greg Hoover, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Atlas World Group. "While there seems to be a shortage of qualified workers, there are still economic realities that keep the pendulum from swinging entirely in the favor of employees. For example, fully reimbursed move packages are becoming a thing of the past — just like full coverage health care and other amenities."

Relocation reimbursement trends changed significantly from 2004. The percentage of firms offering full reimbursement to transferees and new hires decreased, while those offering partial reimbursement or lump sum payments increased.

Reimbursement for benefits such as packing all items, moving exercise equipment, carrying items from attics and paying for unlimited shipment weights, however, all saw sizeable decreases, down 7 percent — 10 percent since the prior year.

Outsourcing is another service that has sharply declined over the last few years. In 2004, the number of companies that outsourced to a relocation service, HRO or brokerage firm leveled off and slightly decreased for the first time in almost a decade. In 2005, the decline continued, with only 55 percent of respondents using an outside service, compared to 63 percent in 2004.

More than 400 corporate relocation professionals completed this year's survey online between Jan. 25 and Feb. 28. Most respondents work in human resources or personnel departments for service, manufacturing, financial and government organizations and nearly half work for international companies. Half of the respondents represent firms with fewer than 500 salaried employees and half represent mid- and large-size firms.

Survey Fast Facts:

  • Service is still the most important factor when evaluating or selecting a carrier for corporate relocations — nearly 90 percent of respondents rated it as critically important. Reputation and price were ranked second and third overall, respectively, for carrier selection.
  • More than 70 percent of small companies relocated nine or fewer employees last year, while 76 percent of large companies relocated 100 or more employees.
  • 18 percent of transferred employees were women.
  • 35 percent of survey respondents said declining a relocation opportunity usually hinders an employee's career.
  • Nearly 40 percent of firms that relocate employees internationally said the number of international relocations increased between 2004 and 2005; 30 percent of those firms say it will go up again in 2006.
  • 55 percent of companies outsourced relocation services during 2005, down from levels seen over the past two years (63 percent and 66 percent respectively).

For complete survey results visit

Atlas Van Lines is the largest subsidiary of Atlas World Group, an Evansville, Ind.-based company that posted record revenues of $949 million in 2005. Atlas World Group companies employ more than 700 people throughout North America. More than 600 Atlas agents in the United States and Canada specialize in corporate employee relocation and in the transportation of high-value items such as electronics, fine art and new fixtures and furniture. Visit for more information on the company and Atlas agents.