Hurricane Harvey and Gas Prices

By Dr. Jeff Wallace

Over 45.0 percent of total U.S. petroleum refining capacity is located along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico (see:   Accordingly, it is not surprising that hurricane season brings with it great risks to fuel supplies and, therefore, prices.  When hurricanes strike the Gulf region, specifically with regard to gasoline prices, the relevant questions to be answered are how much will prices rise and for how long? As seen in the linked-PowerPoint, we explored this issue in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, just as prices were beginning to rise.  We show that price impacts of hurricanes are likely to be short lived (less than one month) before prices return to their prior trend levels.  As is becoming evident with newer data, gasoline prices have already begun to drift lower towards prior levels (see and

Hurricane Harvey and Gas Prices

Memphis is a great city for jobs, and that’s no Bluff?

By David Taylor

Looking for a Job you love? Consider moving to the Bluff City. According to a new report from Glassdoor, Memphis is one of the best cities for jobs in 2017. Glassdoor City Score, based on a 5-point scale (5.0=best city for a job, 1.0=worst city for a job), is determined by weighing three factors equally: hiring opportunity, cost of living and job satisfaction. Hiring opportunity is the ratio of active job openings to population. Cost of living is the ratio of median base salary to median home value.  This ranking values the lower cost of living in Memphis greater than the number of jobs in Nashville. A similar study by Indeed also placed Memphis in it’s top 10 cities for job seekers where cost of living seems to be a major factor. 

In the Glassdoor report, Memphis landed in the 6th spot, with an overall score of 4.4. Here are the numbers for Memphis as reported in the Glassdoor report.

Job Openings: 42,347

Median Base Salary: $41,200

Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.3

Median Home Value: $119,700

Hot Jobs: Physical Therapist, Software Engineer, Maintenance Technician

Leading the way with 95,339 jobs Pittsburgh, PA took the number 1 spot. Our neighbor to the east, Nashville, is 14 spots below Memphis at number 20. Below are the factors for Nashville.

Job Openings: 80,192

Median Base Salary: $42,000

Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.4

Median Home Value: $220,100

Hot Jobs: Professor, Licensed Practical Nurse, Restaurant Server

It is always nice to have a positive story written about Memphis.  But as a precaution, it should be noted that this ranking is not definitive.  It is one of many rankings that come out throughout the year.  In each case, the relative score depends on the factors included in the analysis and the methods used by the analysts.  Memphis ranked high in this report and on the ranking produced by Indeed but the city will rank low on other rankings produced by other companies. The rankings are frequently designed for a purpose—generating publicity is a frequent case.  City rankings are always a mixed bag and should be evaluated carefully before use.  

Check out the full report on Glassdoor's website.,20.htm

Check out the full report on Indeed's website.

The University of Memphis 2016 Economic Impact Study

The University of Memphis is a major economic engine for Memphis and the Mid-south.  In 2016, the University spent $477.7 million directly in the Memphis Metro Area while positively impacting the lives of its students and the community. This video is intended to present the findings of an economic impact study of University spending and show some of the long-term impacts of a college educated workforce.

Increasing Productivity: The Key to Jobs in Memphis

Productivity is a key determinant of wages and ultimately income and corporate profits. Multifactor productivity is a measure of economic performance that compares the amount of goods and services produced (output) to the amount of combined inputs used to produce those goods and services. Inputs can include labor, capital, energy, materials, and purchased services.  Growing and recruiting businesses with high productivity creates higher wage opportunities for local workers. In order to improve the Memphis labor market, economic development efforts should focus on upgrading the workforce and increasing the number of high wage job opportunities.

The following presentation was put together by Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research Intern Christopher Bailey. It reports multifactor productivity data for Shelby County manufacturing industries between 2014 – 2015.

Shelby County Multifactor Productivity

How Do Tennessee Traffic Counts Reflect Recent Economic Progress Across the State?

By Ryan Hanson

Traffic can be one of the least appealing aspects of urban living. No one wants to be caught in gridlock traveling to or from work. Despite an individual’s perspective, previous research shows that the traffic impeding employees’ commute may be a sign that the economy is driving forward.[1] However, this relationship is complicated. While slight increases in congestion may be good for the economy, traffic that goes unchecked can slow delivery times, reduce workers’ quality of life, and limit employers’ access to labor, making a city undesirable and stalling its economy.[2]


With federal budget plans being debated in Congress, this article takes a look at the economic impact of potential federal budget cuts in Shelby County, Tennessee in 2018.  The estimates are based upon President Trump’s budget document America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again and the companion Trump administration document Budget of the U.S. Government: A new Foundation For American Greatness, Fiscal Year 2018.  However, while presidents propose budgets it is up to the Congress to actually pass budget legislation for the President to vote on and those discussions are on-going. 

Comparing Memphis to Other U.S. Locations Using Internet Ranking Sites

By Ryan Hanson

Ranking websites have become a popular trend on the internet recently. These sites rank everything from vacation destinations to new restaurants to the hottest baby names and frequently are referred to as “clickbait,” sites that encourage viewers to click as many times as possible to increase advertising revenue. As part of the trend, cities are frequently ranked in an effort to support relocation decisions by both companies and individuals. Organizations such as Site Selection Magazine, CNBC, WalletHub, Forbes, and periodically publish these lists, ranking the various attributes of potential relocation destinations.

Analysis of Memphis Area Demographics

The Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Memphis published two recent articles considering demographic trends in the Memphis area. Follow the links below for more details.

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

by John Gnuschke, Ph.D., Director and Jeff Wallace, Ph.D., Research Professor

Shelby County Demographics on the Maps

by Ryan Hanson, MA, MSBA, Senior Researcher

A Better Understanding of Memphis Health with Data from the 500 Cities Project

By Ryan Hanson

The 500 Cities project is a collaboration between the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Foundation. The goal of this partnership is to provide communities and decision makers with data and tools to better identify health disparities and create targeted interventions. Typically, data relating to public health are only collected at the state and county levels. The 500 Cities project provides statistics on a select number of chronic disease measures for 500 U.S. cities at the city and Census tract level.  Currently preliminary data is available on the CDC’s Chronic Data Portal and through a series of interactive applications and map books on the project’s website. The project is scheduled to be officially launched in the Summer of 2017 with more interactive web applications and GIS capabilities.