New Data Showing Memphis’ Aviation and Highway Noise Exposures

By Ryan Hanson

This week marks the first-time release of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Noise Map.  The new data is part of the ongoing National Transportation Atlas. The map shows sound footprints of the average 24-hour noise exposure from aviation and highway noise. The good news is more than 97% of the nation live in areas with an exposure of 50 decibels or lower. That is equivalent to a humming refrigerator. However, there are still areas where people are exposed to higher levels of noise

Are Low Unemployment Rates in Middle and East Tennessee An Opportunity for Memphis?

By John Gnuschke

Most counties in Middle and portions of East Tennessee are nearing full employment. Only the frictionally unemployed (those waiting to take a job) or those unemployed for structural reasons are available to fill new jobs.  Employment costs rise in direct relation to the severity and duration of the labor shortage.  Employers can expect employee wage and non-wage costs and turnover to increase as the competition for employees heats up.  Meanwhile, areas with higher unemployment such as Memphis may have opportunities for growth associated with their available labor pool?

Growing Manufacturing in Memphis?

Related article: How Memphis Stacks up as Manufacturing Jobs Grow, Feb. 28, 2017.  Available online at:

The answer to the question is “yes” but, it also depends upon the period.  As is the case with the nation, manufacturing employment has been shrinking in the Memphis MSA for decades.  However, in the past few years there has been some growth.  Since 2011 manufacturing jobs grew by 3.0% in the Memphis MSA.  Nationally the recent growth is attributable to many factors including reshoring, or, American companies moving jobs back to the US from overseas to take advantage of expected long-term differences in exchange rates, consumer sentiment, relative political and economic stability, and greater productivity of the US workforce.

Will this trend continue?  In the short-run, yes.  But, the long-term the outlook for manufacturing employment is negative, especially as advances in technology boosts productivity thereby allowing manufacturers to produce more with fewer employees. A suggestion to manufacturing employees: if you haven’t already done so, learn a skill or trade and/or get a formal education.  Doing so substantially increases the odds of your having a job long-term.

Jeff Wallace, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor

Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research

The University of Memphis


City of Memphis Economic Outlook 2016-2017

By Jeff Wallace

The 2016-17 City of Memphis fiscal year will see the outlook for positive economic growth, income and job creation continue as a result of the steady expansion of the national economy.  The Memphis economy historically expands during periods of sustained national economic growth.  The stronger the nation grows, the stronger the Memphis economic expansion will be in 2016-17.  While the economic malaise in Europe, Asia and most of the developing world limits global opportunities, the 2016-17 U.S. economic outlook is for continued expansion at a modest 2-2.5% pace.  This national growth rate will have a positive impact on the Memphis economy. The threat of the national economy slipping into a recession will most likely postpone any additional interest rate increases during this year. The growth plans of businesses over the next year will reflect the economic forecast for the year.  Stronger growth will be met with stronger expansion plans while weaker growth will be associated with weaker expansion plans for businesses in Memphis and the nation.