Geographic Mobility and Annual Earnings in the United States

Social Security Bulletin. 80(2): 1-24, 2020

24 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2020

Date Written: May 05, 2020


The geographic mobility rate of U.S. workers has declined in recent decades. Labor mobility has historically indicated variations between local areas in earnings and other economic conditions. Because average career earnings determine Social Security retirement benefit levels, changing trends in geographic mobility and earnings may have implications for workers’ future benefits. The author uses administrative data on earnings from the Social Security Administration’s Continuous Work History Sample to examine trends in geographic mobility from 1994 to 2016 and compare the earnings of working-age adults who moved to another county or state with the earnings of those who did not.

Keywords: Labor Mobility, Earnings, Relocation

JEL Classification: D31, J61, J63

Suggested Citation

Purcell, Patrick J., Geographic Mobility and Annual Earnings in the United States (May 05, 2020). Social Security Bulletin. 80(2): 1-24, 2020, Available at SSRN:

Patrick J. Purcell (Contact Author)

U.S. Social Security Administration ( email )

Washington, DC 20254
United States
202-358-6348 (Phone)

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