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.

A New Perspective on California Wildfires, 2018

By Ryan Hanson

The California wildfire season of 2018 has been record-setting and thus far has scorched three times as many acres as were burned during the previous year. On August 7th, the Mendocino Complex, which consists of twin fires in northern California, became the largest fire in state history, covering 455 square miles, and is not expected to be fully contained until September. Map 1 shows the current perimeter of the fire north of San Francisco and Sacramento. There are 18 other fires currently burning across the state1 (see Map 2).

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

By 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:

A Brief on the Benefits of a College Education

The most important impact of a university occurs from the changes it makes in the lives of its students. Because of their education, college graduates are more likely to be employed and earn higher incomes than are non-graduates. Nearly all people with a college degree are employed, with only a small percentage unemployed in any economic period.  Unemployment rates rise for everyone in a deep recession, but college graduates always have an advantage even in weak labor markets.

Risks are Large, but the National Economy is Expected to Grow in 2019

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

After eight years of steady but anemic economic expansion, relatively stronger rates of economic growth are expected in 2019 because of the federal tax cut and deficit spending injections of 2018.  But, risks loom large and without more fundamental changes in the economy, growth forecasts will gradually revert toward the mean annual increases experienced since the Great Recession ended.