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Get a snapshot of the Memphis workforce and find out how we can help you find the workers you need.

Ready to Work

Companies new to Memphis are discovering what long-time Memphis employers already know — Memphis has many workforce advantages. It’s located in a Right to Work state and offers a low cost of living. It also has a robust workforce with a median age of 35 and a strong work ethic. With help from the Chamber, employers can benefit from grants and incentive programs that help them identify, hire, train, develop and retain workers. Plus, there are several proven partners eager to help — strong academic institutions, community colleges, vocational schools and technical training facilities.

Workforce Depth + Breadth

Not only does Memphis draw from a three-state labor pool (Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area), employment ranges across the spectrum of industries. Employment is relatively balanced among industries giving the Memphis workforce breadth in both skills and experience. Here are the metro’s annual employment figures for the latest month available.

October 2018 (preliminary)

Total Labor Force: 644,120
Employed: 619,550
Unemployed: 24,570
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%

Source: State of Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development
SCHOOLType2017 Enrollment2016-2017 Completions
University of Memphis4-year or more, Public 21,521 4,485
Southwest Tennessee Community College2-year, Public 9,099 1,328
Northwest Mississippi Community College2-year, Public 7,654 1,370
Strayer University4-year or more, Private 3,917 350
University of Tennessee Health Science Center4-year or more, Public 3,199 939
Christian Brothers University4-year or more, Private 2,157 522
Rhodes College4-year or more, Private 2,010 486
Arkansas State University Mid-South2-year, Public 1,561 556
Concorde Career College-Memphis2-year, Private 1,420 846
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences4-year, Private 1,075 262
Le Moyne-Owen College4-year, Private 863 144
Rust College4-year, Private 860 125
Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Memphis2-year, Public 843 536
Remington College-Memphis Campus2-year, Private 697 218
University of Mississippi - Desoto4-year or more, Public 648 N/A
Park University4-year, Private 579 39
Southern College of Optometry4-year or more, Private 534 124
Delta Technical College< 2-year, Private 429 404
National College - Memphis2-year, Private 357 63
Belhaven University - Memphis4-year or more, Private 341 65
Concorde Career College-Southaven2-year, Private 335 253
Webster University4-year or more, Private 316 44
Memphis College of Art4-year or more, Private 303 80
William Moore College of Technology2-year, Private 264 118
National College - Bartlett2-year, Private 228 34
Career Academy<2 year, Private 184 179
Harding University4-year or more, Private 161 19
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University4-year or more, Private 129 21
Visible Music College4-year, Private 124 13
University of Arkansas - Millington4-year or more, Public 111 36
Southern Illinois University Carbondale 4-year, Public 63 -
Health-Tech Institute of Memphis<2 year, Private 56 4
Relay Graduate School of Education4-year or more, Private 31 -

SOURCES: National Center for Education Statistics, Tennessee Higher Education Commission and individual school websites

Fall 2017 Enrollment

Greater Memphis  2016 Labor Study Summary

Top Occupations in Demand:

  • Customer Service Representatives in these industries:
    •  Information Technology, Logistics, Manufacturing, and especially the Finance, Insurance, and Business Services.
  • For the Information Technology sector, demand is high in the Information sector as well as across all sectors for IT professionals on all levels.
  • Machinists are in demand for the Medical Device Manufacturing sector and within all of the Advanced and General Manufacturing sectors.

Potential Workforce

A survey of 450 unemployed and underemployed persons revealed that 64% needed public transportation to/from worksites and 62% are willing to apply for work via smartphone. Of those surveyed, 33% were interested in customer service, 21% were interested in light manufacturing & assembly and 33% were interested in warehouse positions.

High Demand Occupations in 2021, Memphis MSA

  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics: +6.5% increase in workers
  • Computer User Support: +6.4% increase in workers
  • Customer Service Representatives: +3.0% increase in workers
  • Machinists: +7.7% increase in workers

Higher Education Needs – Focus Group Results

  • Information Technology firms expressed a desire for more availability of internship programs for IT students enrolled in vocational and 4-year programs.
  • 50% of the engineering firms participating were satisfied with the pool of engineering graduates available locally. The other 50% recommended expanded training in drafting software and other methods of engineering theory.
  • Companies in logistics and warehousing cited a shortage of customer service representatives with sales experience as well as entry-level forklift drivers.
  • Manufacturers cited a strong demand for machinists, CNC operators, grinders and middle management supervisors.

All the companies expressed a willingness to work with local schools and workforce agencies to fill the gaps.

Access a copy of the Memphis labor study by clicking here

Source: Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce

Employment by Industry

Memphis Metro Employment by Industry

INDUSTRY SECTOR20172016% Change
Mining, Logging, and Construction22,80021,9004.1%
Retail Trade68,20068,2000.0%
Wholesale Trade36,50035,6002.5%
Transportation & Utilities71,20070,4001.1%
Information 5,6005,700-1.8%
Financial Activities 28,60028,0002.1%
Professional & Business Services92,70097,100-4.5%
Education and Health Services94,10092,5001.7%
Leisure and Hospitality68,60067,3001.9%
Other Services 25,70025,0002.8%
Total Non-Farm Employment625,800616,5001.5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES Data

Workforce Assistance

See how the Chamber and our partners help companies identify, train and develop great employees. Click here to learn more or contact Ernest Strickland at or 901-543-3548.


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