According to the The Wall Street Journal, roughly 3.5 million Americans relocated for a new job last year, down 10% from 2015. Aside from economic drivers, experts also cite changing family ties as a major factor; increasingly, parents seek their kids’ input when planning a move, even giving them veto power.
As we have pointed out elsewhere (see: "Declining Business Dynamism: A Visual Guide"), job churn and job reallocation rates have been on an accelerating downward trend for roughly thirty years--and median employee tenure has been rising in most age brackets. So let's start with the fact that people simply aren't switching jobs as often. In addition, when they do switch jobs, they are less likely to accept a new job that requires relocation.
This is happening for a variety of reasons.
The rise of two-earner households makes it harder for one earner to drag the rest of the family along with him (or her). Working-age families want to remain near their parents (Boomers and Silent), who are more often themselves "aging in place" nearby. Xer parents are much more solicitous of the views of their children, who often want to stay with the same school and friends. (When Xers were kids, they had no say--when Dad said let's go, everyone just went.)
Moving for a job is also riskier than it used to be, because fewer employers can offer many guarantees about how long the new job will last--and many are cutting back on relocation benefits.
Result: It's not just relocation for the sake of a job that is down. Relocation for any reason is down. The rate has declined by nearly half since the Eisenhower years--and it has declined the most for young adults. The supposedly staid and conformist American High (1946-1963) was actually an era in which American families manifested much greater geographic dynamism than they do today--a point echoed in Tyler Cowen's recent book, "The Complacent Class."