Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, some employers offered one-time relocation bonuses to offset a reduction in base salary for workers who wanted to leave high-cost cities such as New York and San Francisco.
Some, grateful for job security, gladly took the offers. Now, after more than a year of adjusting to remote work and remaining productive — in some cases increasing their hours — more people are questioning why their value is based on their geographic coordinates.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to adapt and remove the dependence on a traditional headquarters. It prompted a full migration to remote workforces and hybrid workforces in some cases.
Urban dwellers fled their expensive apartments in favor of more space out in the suburbs.
That was the story of 2020.
Large corporations like Twitter and Slack gave all employees the option to work from home permanently, and Salesforce announced early in 2021 its plan for hybrid work.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said early in the pandemic that where employees were located would affect their pay.
Geography’s impact on workers’ compensation used to be a given. But now, more employees are questioning whether a pay cut makes sense given that they are working more hours, producing the same quality of work and feel they could find another job if they needed to.
From the company perspective, there is a risk in reducing the salaries for those who move, since any reduction, no matter the reason, is bad for morale.
In response to corporations lowering pay for remote working, 45 cities across the country now offer some type of incentives for relocation for remote workers.
But what some have labeled as a “great urban exodus” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is in fact overblown.
While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated preexisting migration out of cities like New York City and San Francisco, those two are the only true examples of anything resembling an exodus.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 19,000 Manhattanites moved to Florida, but since then 10,000 said they plan to move back. In fact, more residents — 20,000 — moved to the neighboring borough of Brooklyn than to Florida.
Many of those who did move permanently out of the two cities didn't go far. Some San Franciscans headed out to Sacramento or Oakland, while some New Yorkers moved east to Long Island, upstate to Westchester, or a train's ride away to Bridgeport, Connecticut, or Philadelphia.
For remote workers seeking opportunities, the United States continues to dominate when it comes to remote hiring practices, with over 70 percent of remote job listings originating from the U.S.
The sheer amount of remote work by companies across the country means employees have leverage when negotiating and seeking employment opportunities.
More than 70 percent of workers in the U.S. under 40 said they would leave their job instead of going back to the office.
At present, it is expected that approximately 22 percent of all Americans will still be working remotely by the year 2025.
AmChamUS supports employment anywhere in the U.S., whether traditional, hybrid or fully remote. The economic benefits of increased employment on cities and municipalities far outweigh the necessity to be physically showing up in an office every day.
AmChamUS does not support reducing salaries based on geographic location, and will continue to work with trade groups and business associations to lobby on behalf of workers’ rights.