52nd Annual Atlas Corporate Relocation Survey
Invited via email, 444 decision-makers completed an online questionnaire between January 15 and February 22. Each respondent has responsibility for relocation and is employed by a company that has either relocated employees during the past two years or plans to relocate employees this year.
For analysis, firms are categorized by size:
Fewer than 500 salaried employees (36 percent)
500-4,999 salaried employees (36 percent)
5,000+ salaried employees (29 percent)
46 percent work in firms that relocate employees internationally.
Relocation Volume & Budgets
In general, 2018 was positive for the relocation industry; roughly nine out of ten organizations indicate both volumes and budgets either held steady or increased. Projections for 2019 are similarly optimistic. Among firms relocating employees internationally, 48% saw increases in international volumes last year and 47% expect increases in 2019. Around one-seventh of firms saw decreased volumes last year and expect decreased international activity in 2019. While projected increases appear to outpace decreases roughly three-to-one, Brexit looms as a wild card. One-fifth of firms moving employees internationally are unsure of Brexit’s impact on 2019 volumes.
Tax Reform’s Impact
The passing of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the moving-expenses deduction for 2018-2025. We incorporated additional questions to assess the potential impact of this bill last year and we continue to investigate it.
Tax Reform's Impact – Number of Relocations Performed
Number of relocations performed
- When survey respondents in early 2018 considered the law’s potential impact, the picture was highly uncertain. However, the data shows a positive impact, with higher relocation volumes rather than negative. This was most strongly expected and reported among mid-size firms, followed by small. Gains and losses essentially zeroed out for large firms, making the overall impact negligible for them.
- Looking toward 2019-2025, projections across company size shift in favor of increases. Around a third of firms project greater volumes, compared to roughly one out of seven projecting a decrease.
Tax Reform's Impact – Relocation Admin Complexity
Complexity of relocation administration
- Around four out of ten firms expected increases in the complexity of administration in 2018. Data showed their projections were spot on.
4 out of 10 firms expected increases in the complexity of administration in 2018.
Tax Reform's Impact – Relocation Costs
- Around half of organizations expected the law to cause an increase in relocation costs in 2018, and their expectations were realized. Projections among mid-size and large firms were spot on; small firms report more increases than projected (42% vs. 31%).
- Essentially half or more of firms across company size expect increased costs in 2019-2025. Very few expect tax reform will save them money; they see it is costing them more and expect it will continue to do so.
Tax Reform's Impact – Relocation Policy Changes
Relocation policy changes
- Roughly four out of ten firms expected relocation policy changes in response to tax reform in 2018. Expectations essentially became reality.
- More mid-size and large firms felt this would be the case than small firms, and their expectations proved true. More than a third (37%) of large firms and almost half (47%) of mid-size firms made changes last year because of tax reform. Just 28% of small firms did so.
- While a third of firms overall expect additional policy adjustments during 2019-2025, such anticipation is greatest among mid-size firms (45%).
|4/10 firms expected increases in relocation policy changes
Not only is tax reform making relocation more expensive and administratively complex, policy changes are still evolving in response to it.
Tax Reform's Impact – Difficulty Recruiting Employees
Difficulty recruiting employees to relocate
- Overall, around half of organizations expected the law to have no effect on the difficulty to recruit employees in 2018; around half reported the same as well as similar expectations for 2019-2025.
- However, the impact was dissimilar across company size: 36% of mid-size firms experienced greater recruiting difficulty, followed by 30% of small firms. Large firms felt the impact least (21%).
- Expectations for 2019-2025 are similar: mid-size firms project more difficulty (42%), followed by small (34%), with large firms the least likely (27%) to expect greater difficulty in recruiting employees.