Her work uncovered how local politics factor into workers’ decision to relocate

Political leanings can lead to many things. 

Obviously, the way one votes in any election, but if one recent study is correct, people are choosing where they live and work based on political leanings more than ever. In Tennessee, a historically red state, 22,565 people relocated from California in 2022 (that’s almost 10% of new residents from another state) while 11.2% of new Tennesseans were Floridians flooding the Volunteer state (the fifth most relocated to state by former Florida residents).

In many of those cases, politics played a role. California, being one of the bluest states in the union, is losing conservative thinkers at a supercharged rate, and many from Florida relocated to the Volunteer state with a realization that the political climate would seem familiar.

According to research conducted by Kimberly Merriman, a former real estate agent, management professor in UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business and UMass Lowell talent Management Strategist, “whether individuals are tired of what they view as “far-left” or “far-right” agendas, the politics of place is increasingly influencing where workers choose to live – a development that creates new opportunities for employers.”

Her work uncovered how local politics factor into workers’ decision to relocate.

The research analyzed the personal stories of 1,300 individuals who moved, and in an interesting discovery, the study found that local politics favored workers’ decision to relocate. Business strategies employers use to mitigate the “politics of place” were also integral in the decision-making process for those polled.

“This topic has perhaps never been more relevant, as the 2024 presidential election looms in November,” according to Merriman. “A survey of 500 U.S. real estate agents shows 32% of them had at least one client who relocated in 2023 due to political fit,” she said. “This is an emerging concern for businesses seeking to retain workers.”

Merriman cites three core ways employers can enhance their brand with their employees relative to local politics. According to the research, Management can either:

  • Separate the corporate identity from the politics of place
  • Use the corporate identity to influence local politics
  • Relocate corporate headquarters to states that identify as “purple” – that is, neither Democratic nor Republican

“Business, politics and place are inexorably intertwined. Companies have always weighed these considerations for the non-people aspects of their business operations but have given less attention, until recently, to what politics of place means for workers,” Merriman said. “There’s no better time than now for companies and leaders to examine how the local political climate impacts their ability to attract and retain a workforce.”

Image by freepik.

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