During the Great Recession, many companies not only halted hiring, but relocating employees.

But in 2011, that movement picked back up, with 67% of relocation managers saying they believed their companies would fare better in 2012, and had seen improvement in relocation volumes, budgets and overall performance last year.

This is according to Atlas Van Lines, a moving company that helps with corporate relocation. After progressively declining over the past two years, 65% of firms are offering relocated employees full reimbursement, far more often than lump sum or partial reimbursement. Forty-four percent of executives surveyed believe the U.S. economy will improve in 2012 and 26% of companies plan to relocate more workers this year than last.

Basic 2012 results:

• 44% of executives surveyed believe the U.S. economy will improve in 2012.

• 26% of companies plan to relocate more workers this year than last.

• 86% of companies will spend as much or more on relocation in 2012 than in 2011. 

The Northeast is now the top destination of transfers (42%) followed by 2011’s top destination, the Midwest (37%) and the South (31%). The West remains fourth in relocation numbers (26%). More than one-fourth of firms responding expect international relocation volumes to increase this year and more than half (55%) expect levels to remain similar to 2011. Internationally, Asia ranks as the most frequent relocation destination (41%).

The impact of economic and market pressures on relocations appear to be lessening further. In 2011, less than one-fifth of firms decreased relocations among entry level/new hires and middle management employees in response to these pressures, compared to roughly four out of 10 in 2008 and 2009.  However, 57% of companies indicate that employees declined relocation in 2011.  Firms citing increased employee reluctance to relocate remained at the lower levels reported for 2010 (18%), far below 2008 and 2009 (more than 28%), but markedly higher than earlier this decade (more than 7%).

More than 360 corporate relocation professionals completed the online survey between Jan. 10 and March 2. The respondent demographic of the annual corporate relocation survey includes human resources personnel and relocation/mobility services departments for service, manufacturing, wholesale/retail, financial and government organizations.

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