Corporate relocation rate rises to seven-year high

One in 12 publicly traded companies moved their headquarters in the past fiscal year

Some 8.9% of corporations in the U.S. relocated their headquarters within the past fiscal year, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Put another way, 593 of approximately 6,700 publicly traded corporations (or about one in 12 companies) moved to a new home base during that time frame. That’s a seven-year high, topping the 8.7% rate in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Based on sheer numbers, 29% more companies moved their headquarters in 2022-2023 than in the previous fiscal year.

Relocation website Hire a Helper ran a study on the filings for a deeper dive into the data, finding that not only are corporations moving in large numbers but often to different states. Twenty percent of corporate relocations happened within the same city, while 31% involved a different city in the same state. But 24% crossed state borders, with the business-friendly, warm-weather states of Florida and Texas being the biggest net beneficiaries over the past fiscal year.

The Sunshine State had 86% more public traded companies move their home offices there compared to the number of corporations that left, the largest net gain among all states. Texas was second at 71%, with Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar included among its new residents. Arizona (65%) and Utah (57%) likewise saw strong showings in net corporate headquarters movement.

Meanwhile, the states that saw the most companies leave included Washington (-83%), New York (-51%) and California (-46%), three states that are often much more expensive in terms of business expenses, including commercial real estate rents.

Price isn’t always the determining factor in relocation. Note, for example, that The Arena Group recently moved from already pricey Seattle to likewise expensive New York. But it does often play a role. Consider Clearsign Technologies, which moved from the Seattle metro area to much more affordable Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2022. The company was enticed by an incentive through the Oklahoma 21st Century Quality Jobs Act from the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce.

Expenses loom large when examining the figures on a city-by-city basis. Of the top-five cities with the largest net losses of corporate headquarters, four — Seattle (-37.5%), San Jose (-25%), San Francisco (-21.9%) and Chicago (-20%) — are large, costly cities that are the hubs of their own metro areas. Interestingly, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the affluent Boston suburb that’s home to Harvard and MIT, had the dubious distinction of the largest net loss over the past fiscal year. Cambridge had a net corporate headquarters loss of 40%, suggesting that even suburbs on the pricey side aren’t immune.

On the flipside, another Boston suburb (Waltham) topped all cities with a 175% net gain. Five companies moved to the small city on the outskirts of Beantown, with no outbound moves. Small cities in Massachusetts and Texas had the highest net gains, with Burlington, Massachusetts (133%) and Spring, Texas (100%) joining Waltham in the top three.


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