Click for Audio.  No longer just a song for people in unsatisfying or dysfunctional relationships, but also a refrain that plays in the head of the unemployed job seeker.  There have always been people who travel for work, not ‘business travel,’ but picking up and moving to follow the jobs.  People working in industries like construction, drilling, and agriculture.  But for the most part middle class professionals tend to stay put- work at the same firm, live in the same town, and put down roots- at least for years at a time.  In my childhood we moved once- not because my father was changing jobs, just to a larger house in a neighboring community. 

But now, as more people lose their homes and jobs, and job searches drag on over months and months, you have to ask yourself – should I leave?  Should I move from this state with over 12% unemployment and look for work somewhere else?  According to a report by Challenger, Gray and Christmas, many people are answering that question in the affirmative – the job-seeker relocation rate at 18.2% is the highest since the second quarter 2006. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as of September 2009) North Dakota is still holding up well with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of around 4.2% and South Dakota is close behind with a rate of 4.8%.  Iowa, Montana,Wyoming, Virginia, Vermont, Utah and Oklahoma all have unemployment rates under 7%. 

So folks in those areas are staying put.  With the exception of Salt Lake, UT none of these places seem to be drawing job seekers, they may not be laying people off but they aren’t hiring either.  The top 10 ranking metropolitan areas in terms of job postings per capita as of the third quarter 2009 are: Washington, DC; Baltimore MD; San Jose CA; Boston MA; Seattle WA, Salt Lake City UT; San Francisco CA; Austin TX; Charlotte NC; and Hartford CT. 

Should we stay or should we go?  Are those 18.2% of job seekers right?  Every day my job search alert at informs me that there are no job matches in the 30-mile distance I’m willing to commute and I mull over extending that range- statewide? nationwide?  I don’t though.  For now we are staying.  I have no reason to believe a job would be easier to come by in any other state and  I wouldn’t move us without the job already in hand.  The kids don’t want to move again. We’ve moved already – to the mountain state and back again- and it’s a hard, expensive and difficult process for all of us.  We may be hanging on by a thread but we aren’t at the end of our rope yet.