Observations of Job Growth and Unemployment: A Full-Employment Labor Market

By Jeff Wallace, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research

The nation’s economy through the Spring of 2019 has grown for several years straight, producing one of the longest economic expansions in U.S. history. Labor markets are at full employment. Labor shortages are an impediment to increasing economic growth rates, both locally and nationally.  Unemployment rates, a key indicator of the performance of the local economy, have been at full employment levels and are expected to remain there throughout 2019.

Memphis is Number 1!

By Jeff Wallace, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research

If you live in Memphis, here’s something to crow about.  According to an article recently released (May 16, 2019) by www.gobankingrates.com, Memphis is the most affordable of the 50 largest U.S. cities for someone with a $100,000 salary. Items factored in the analysis included annual averages for taxes, rent, groceries, utilities, transportation costs, and healthcare costs. After accounting for these costs, an individual with a salary of $100,000 would have $46,093 left over.

The University of Memphis’ Economic Impact

By Jeff Wallace, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research

The University of Memphis is the largest institution of higher education in Memphis and the Mid-South. Memphis is a community that depends on the University of Memphis. The University drives the production of the next generation of workers and creates a positive force for advancing the community. The vast majority of the University’s students and graduates are actively engaged in the local labor market. The lifetime earnings, employment history, and community engagement create the future of the community. Highly educated workers are the factor that makes Memphis attractive for both new and existing employers.

Returns to Education for College Graduates: The University of Memphis

By Jeff Wallace, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research

and Shea Stock, Graduate Assistant, Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research

The most important investment a person can make is an investment in their education.  Public expenditures for higher education are a reflection of the social and economic value created from having an educated population.  Similarly, the value of an investment in higher education made by students is a reflection of the returns they expect from getting a degree.  Some of the returns can be explained in simple economic terms, such as how much money to expect to get from the investment.  But economic returns are not a comprehensive measure of the value of higher education to either graduates or the public.  Quality of life factors, including improvements in life style, health, citizenship and engagement in community issues, can be added to the long list of gains from investments in higher education.

Memphis MSA Employment by Industry Over Time: February 1999 – February 2019

By Jeff Wallace, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research

The structure of the Memphis economy is always undergoing change. In every case, the changes are partly cyclical and partly structural. Variations in employment reflect the growth and contractions of businesses throughout the community. Over two decades, the industrial employment patterns shown below tend to reflect changes in the structure of the labor market. The growth of some sectors and the decay of others takes time.  

Understanding the Opioid Crisis with CDC Prescribing Rates

Story Map by Ryan Hanson, Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research, University of Memphis

The United States is currently in the midst of an opioid crisis. Between 1999 and 2016, it is estimated that more than 200,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids.  One of the major contributors to this epidemic was a campaign by the pharmaceutical industry to promote long-term opioid use for pain management of chronic, non-cancer-related pain among physicians.  However, as laws and attitudes toward prescription opioids have changed, prescription rates have begun to drop, but not in all communities.

This story map presents data from the CDC on opioid prescribing rates. Click link to view the map.

Are Opportunity Zones a Sufficient Incentive for Targeting Investment in Memphis?

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

Web Map and Application by Ryan Hanson

One of the biggest challenges faced by Memphis is to create an environment where private-sector employers can be competitive, generate profits, and sustain growth.  Private-sector employers are the engines that drive the Memphis economy forward.  Opportunity Zones focus on using reductions in capital gains taxes to stimulate growth in economically-distressed areas of the city. The Opportunity Zone program was created by the national Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and is available in communities across the nation. The attached map shows where Opportunity Zones are located in Memphis.

A New Dataset to Better Understand Economic Upward Mobility in Shelby County

By Ryan Hanson

On Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau released the Opportunity Atlas, which aims to show neighborhoods that offer children the best and worst opportunities to rise out of poverty. The project is a collaboration between the Census Bureau and Harvard and Brown universities and includes data ranging from that for the entire nation down to Census tract level.[1]

Memphis Poverty Fact Sheet, 2018

Dr. Elena Delavega of the School of Social Work at the University of Memphis recently published the updated Memphis Poverty Fact Sheet for 2018. The report uses data from the recently released 2017 American Community Survey and identifies who are Memphis’ poor, compares poverty rates at the local, state, and national levels and illustrates recent trends in poverty rates.