The Tennessee Opioid Epidemic by the Numbers

By Ryan Hanson

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States is in “the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic.”  More people died from drug1 overdoses in 2015 than in any other year on record.2 Since 1999, the death rate from overdoses involving prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone have more than quadrupled.  Between 2000 and 2015, more than half a million people died from drug overdoses, and 91 people die in the United States daily from opioid abuse.3

FedEx Corporation Ranks No. 1 in the Top 50 Global Freight Carriers

By Jeff Wallace, Ph.D.

The trucking and freight newspaper, Transport Topics, in cooperation with SJ Consulting Group, recently released a ranking of the top 50 global freight carriers by revenue in 2016.  At the top of the list in first place is Memphis’ very own FedEx Corporation with Louisville, Kentucky based UPS a close second. Below is a table showing the top 10 on the list. In addition to FedEx, Memphis also benefits from local service and employment from No. 2 UPS, No. 5 Union Pacific Corporation, and No. 8 BNSF Railway.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Shelby County, alone, there were nearly 53,000 persons employed in transportation and warehousing in 751 establishments 2015 (latest available data).

  Source:  Transport Topics at    in cooperation with SJ Consulting Group.

Source:  Transport Topics at in cooperation with SJ Consulting Group.

Understanding Shelby County Migration with IRS Filings

By Ryan Hanson

A recent article in the March 27th edition of the Commercial Appeal described the stagnating growth of the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), referencing the most recent U.S. Census population numbers. 1 The Memphis MSA has had 0.2 percent growth in the last year, considerably less than that of other metros such as Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Clarksville and the State of Tennessee as a whole (see Table 1).  The Census data reflect population change that occurs due to births, deaths, and migrations.

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.