will provide quarterly publications and analyses featuring unique economic and demographic data.  The combination of The University of Memphis’ professional analysis along with private and public data provide a unique perspective for economic development professionals.  Analysis topics will capture subjects such as business trends, labor force and wage trends, economic base analysis, target industry identification, and demographic analysis. 

The Memphis IT Skill Shortage and Its Impact on Local Mid-Sized Firms

Dennis Wilson, Ph.D., Senior Global Technology Researcher,  Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Memphis
Recruiting and hiring technology professionals is challenging. There are special characteristics that define this segment of the labor market that relate to supply and demand, demographics, and constant changes in technology. According to a recent article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the dynamics of this labor market environment consist of:


Local Economic Growth Expected to Continue for the Remainder of 2018

By John Gnuschke, Ph.D., Director and Jeff Wallace, Ph.D., Research Professor
Sparks Bureau of Business & Economic Research, The University of Memphis

The outlook for the Memphis MSA for the remainder of 2018 is for continued economic growth, income, and job creation because of the steady expansion of the national economy. Historically, the Memphis economy expands during periods of sustained national economic growth.  Therefore, the stronger the nation grows, the stronger the Memphis economic expansion will be in 2018 and into 2019.  Stronger growth will be met with stronger expansion plans by businesses in both Memphis and the nation.


Memphis Retail:  Evolution Not Extinction — A Look at Disruption, Trends, and Innovation in Retail

By Shawn Massey, CCIM, CRX, CLS, ALC*

Much has been written about the “Retail Apocalypse” and the demise of bricks and mortar that is simply not justified by the actual numbers.  How this negative view of retail has evolved can be traced back to a few sources that have twisted the news and have focused on the retail of the past and not on the future of retail development and the evolution taking place within the industry.


Prospects for Improving Real Estate Cycle Conditions for Memphis Area Commercial Real Estate

By Richard D. Evans, PhD.

Emeritus Professor of Economics and Real Estate, University of Memphis Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Director of Real Estate Research and Director of Revenue Forecasting

Glenn Mueller’s Real Estate Cycle Monitor rates real estate cycle conditions for five Memphis commercial property types. Quarterly cycle reports, covering more than fifty major markets for five property types, are free‒with the latest issue emailed November 27, 2017. [Real Estate Cycle Monitor. Black Creek Group,]


Shelby County Demographics on the Maps

Ryan Hanson, MA, MSBA, Senior Researcher
Sparks Bureau of Business & Economic Research
The University of Memphis


Demographics take on new meaning when put into their spatial context. Maps enable new relationships and patterns to be viewed and understood more easily than tabular data alone. The new information created by placing the data in its spatial context can allow for better understanding and decision-making than was previously possible.

The following series of maps show demographic indicators for Shelby County by ZIP codes. The data come from the American Community Survey five-year averages and are related to several topics: population, household income, and race. Although there are only three different demographic topics mapped, similar spatial patterns are seen across all the indicators due to the relationship between socioeconomics and geography. continue

Can Memphis Survive with Slow Growth? An Analysis of Demographic and Economic Data Help Answer the Question

John Gnuschke, Ph.D., Director
Jeff Wallace, Ph.D., Research Professor
Sparks Bureau of Business & Economic Research
The University of Memphis

In this article we focus on demographic and economic data to answer the question posed in the title.  In particular, our focus is on data available from U.S. government sources including the U.S. Census Bureau (Census), the American Community Survey (ACS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Our purpose in doing so is to provide the reader with a brief overview of commonly used and easily accessible data so as to better understand demographic and economic trends impacting the Memphis area. continue

Economic Outlook 2017 – Memphis and the Nation Executive Summary

Dr. John E. Gnushke, Ph.D. Director
Sparks Bureau of Business & Economic Research, University of Memphis

Economic foundations Made America Great and will Keep America Great. Basic economic principles define how individual freedoms generate the best future for the nation.  The outlook for 2017 and beyond should focus on building the economic strength of the nation.  The economic actions of individuals and businesses will Keep America Great. The nation will grow and prosper when we release the power of individuals and businesses to make decisions free of government interference.

After the Great Recession, the outlook for the economy appeared bleak and the prospects for returning to a prolonged period of economic growth seemed unlikely.  But, the post-Great Recession period has turned out to be one of rapid global trade expansion, stable growth, low inflation, low interest rates, and declining unemployment.  Record-setting stock markets, powerful corporate profits, and the strong recovery of the labor market have led the way for income gains for most groups.  These conditions set the stage for another year of modest economic growth even as uncertainties rise.

Our nation cannot prosper while the rest of the world stagnates.  The global economy is not independent of the U.S., and our actions will impact the outlook for other nations.  The strength of this nation is in its economic power.  Higher risks in global markets will combine with higher interest rates and delayed fiscal policy actions in domestic markets to limit the upside gains many anticipate.  continue

Metro Memphis’s Economy Is Changing – Again. Are We Ready?

Reid Dulberger, President & CEO
Chief Economic Development Officer for Memphis & Shelby County

Ben Franklin said it best:  When you're finished changing, your finished."

Memphis has seen its share of change over the years. From a small trading outpost in the 18th century to the commercial hub of the Delta in the 19th and 20th, from small-scale producer of cotton and hardwood products for local consumption to supplier to the world, Memphis has evolved to its present role as “America’s Distribution Center.” Through it all, we have relied on our location and superior transportation assets to attract industries to drive our local economy. But like those earlier eras, change is coming. The question is: Are we ready?

Globalization has changed where products are made, and e-commerce how they’re distributed and sold. Advances in industrial technology are continually reducing the number of workers required to produce the same level of output or move the same number of containers. Those who remain need more education and a different set of skills to operate today’s more advanced equipment. In fact, where once workers with the requisite skills could be relied upon to migrate to the jobs, in today’s environment companies make investment decisions based on where they can find talent. In this environment, low-skilled workers find their options for a comfortable life ever more limited.  continue