MemMeasures Volume 1

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MemMeasures Volume 1 A snapshot of how the economy of Greater Memphis compares to peers.

A publication from the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Center for Economic Competitiveness


This report was created by the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Center for Economic Competitiveness in collaboration with Innovate Memphis and BLDG Memphis. It is a result of a participation in the 2020 Brookings Institution Inclusive Economic 2 Indicators Lab.

Genuine prosperity is about far more than a single lens of a region’s economy or an individual’s financial wealth. Prosperity represents an environment which allows individuals to reach their full potential. A region is prosperous when it has effective institutions, quality job opportunities, and thriving people who are economically stable and have the necessary skills and necessary access to hold a quality job. Inspired by The

Legatum Institute, 2020


The future of our region is not predicated on prediction, it is defined by individual choice and collective action. The Greater Memphis Chamber’s Center for Economic Competitiveness is dedicated to thinking and acting strategically to catalyze large-scale regional competitiveness improvements that drive genuine prosperity through quality job growth and access in Greater Memphis. Through unprecedented collaboration between economic development and community development partners and stakeholders, our work helps position Memphis for more prosperity.

Our work is grounded in data and built on best practice.


The People Powered Prosperity Dashboard and Benchmark is a practical tool to monitor the health of our regional economy.

It helps stakeholders identify areas of focus for improvement initiatives and can guide more informed discussions related to a competitive and equitable future. We use regional benchmarks to identify and guide strategic transformation. These benchmark metrics help identify areas where the community lags against a competitive set of peers and quantifies the scale of improvement needed to improve the region’s position relative to peers. Additionally, these regional benchmarks highlight indicators of strength, providing a clear picture of what’s working well.

The MemMeasures Report leverages the Dashboard and Benchmark to help identify specific action items that could be taken to help build stronger pathways to prosperity.

Project Goals •

Develop a shared set of regional metrics to help coordinate and prioritize economic and community development efforts toward a common set of improved economic outcomes.

Enhance stakeholder knowledge of the Greater Memphis region’s competitive positioning.

Identify areas of regional success on which we can build momentum.

Pinpoint areas of opportunity to improve competitive positioning.


The future city is not a prediction game. It’s a choice. -Amy Liu

Amy Liu is the Vice President of the Brookings Institution and serves as Director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.



People Powered Prosperity is designed to

measure and monitor progress toward the goal of making Greater Memphis a more globally competitive region. This is a first-of-its-kind regional benchmark for Greater Memphis. The People Powered Prosperity project works to connect two collaborative efforts: The Greater Memphis Chamber’s Center for Economic Competitiveness and the Shared Prosperity Partnership. These programs support economic competitiveness, reduce inequity in economic growth, and improve quality of life in Memphis communities by investing in people and the neighborhoods they call home. Through an unprecedented collaboration, multiple stakeholders are engaged in building strong foundations for thriving households and investing in economic enablers to ensure our region enjoys more prosperous economic outcomes, helping Memphis better compete for jobs and investments on a global scale. By examining the economy across economic foundations, economic enablers, and economic outcomes, we can celebrate our successes and, when required, champion elements where improvements are needed. Through partnership, Greater Memphis has an opportunity to build, align, and grow high-impact initiatives that will generate better outcomes for all the region’s residents.

Comparison Metro Areas Greater Memphis Birmingham Indianapolis Kansas City Louisville Milwaukee Nashville New Orleans Oklahoma City St. Louis



It took Greater Memphis nearly 10 years to recover from the Great Recession of 2008/09, reaching pre-recession job numbers in January of 2018. While the pre-pandemic regional economy experienced an accelerated job growth rate, it was not enough to keep Greater Memphis on pace with the US or state of Tennessee average.

Pre-pandemic, the 5-year compound annual job growth rate from 2014 to 2019 in Greater Memphis was 1.34%.

CAGR 2014 to 2019 Source: Economic Modeling Specialists International, Q1 2021


50,000 new jobs by 2030


Choose the extraordinary. Reflective Future Recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic falls in-line with historical baselines. Globally competitive projects pass by as infrastructure deteriorates and population growth plateaus. Talent and industry migrate seeking higher quality market environments. Industry dependencies compound as automation influences key sectors threatening work displacement, higher unemployment, and deteriorating market quality.

Extraordinary Future We take a bold stand to influence our economic future. In an unprecedented campaign, leadership aligns towards shared prosperity for all. Greater Memphis

becomes a national leader in equitable economic growth. Access and opportunity become synonymous, and our identity is globally recognized for its quality. Job growth empowers the economically fragile and Greater Memphis emerges as a globally competitive market for opportunity.

The Question: Can we transform the economy of Greater Memphis to generate shared prosperity, for all?

This is a Call-to-Action 1. To define the economic future we want to achieve for Greater Memphis;

2. To become data driven and invest our time, energy, and resources in areas that will bolster a bright economic future for Greater Memphis.

3. To relentlessly pursue prosperity for all by building an

economic system that empowers the economically fragile and delivers quality job growth at a scale that changes our region’s growth trajectory.


The campaign for the future is now.


The Framework Creating Conditions for Thriving Households to Power the Global Economy in Memphis


Through unprecedented collaboration, regional partners are engaged to build strong

foundations for thriving households and invest in economic enablers to ensure our region enjoys

more prosperous

economic outcomes, helping

Memphis better compete for jobs and investments on a global scale. 13

As the foundation of an economy, people - and the programs that support them, are the cornerstones that build towards a more equitable, inclusive, and growing regional economy.


Healthy foundations stabilize economic and socioeconomic insecurities, empower access to new growth and opportunity, and cast the conditions that are necessary for broad-based prosperity to be achieved. In the context of this regional benchmark, foundational elements are oriented towards two critical elements, Economic Stability and Job Access.


Human capital, alongside a growing labor market are important drivers of equitable economic growth. Workers must have access to a diverse range of quality opportunities and be able to participate and benefit from the regional economy. In this regard, growing the presence of quality and opportunity jobs, offers the greatest likelihood of improving the outlook for individual jobseekers in the market. Industry diversity is a primary ingredient for building a more resilient future. Today, industry diversity is low for the Greater Memphis region. Spurring growth and scaling innovation in advanced industries will work to improve the industrial composition of the regional economy and yield greater impact to earnings and productivity, overtime.


Greater Memphis is in global competition for jobs and investment. Through intentional focus and longterm strategic collaboration, we can strategically bolster agents of economic growth so that the region can achieve the economic outcomes it desires for inclusion and prosperity. Growth signals new opportunities for the region on the national and global stage, but ultimately, it provides a means to desired ends for the region’s residents and businesses – an improving standard of living and narrowing racial and economic gaps that undergird the region’s long-term stability and 14 resiliency.

Economic Foundations Foundations for Thriving Households


Job Access Vision

Equal access, for all. The market ranks last among peers for Job Access, a primary input for an individual to prosper. Accessibility and proximity to jobs are critical elements for the resident population to thrive. Individuals must have the ability to access opportunities physically and, require enhanced connectivity with digital infrastructure within their residential environment.


A strong transportation and affordable broadband infrastructure investment strategy alongside the development of neighborhoodbased job creation and economic empowerment support will be required to influence job access, at-scale.

Broadband Connectivity Percent of Population with Broadband Connectivity 2019

Nashville Kansas City Milwaukee St. Louis Indianapolis New Orleans Oklahoma City Louisville Birmingham Memphis

74.9% 73.5% 73.1% 72.0% 71.0% 67.7% 66.8% 66.7% 63.6% 60.8%

Job Proximity

Job Distribution by Census Tract

Number of Employees by Census Tract

With exception for the FedEx World Hub, job centers in metro Memphis are largely distributed along the Poplar corridor.

Population with a commute time less than 20 minutes 2019

Oklahoma City Milwaukee Kansas City New Orleans Louisville Indianapolis Memphis St. Louis Nashville Birmingham

43.4% 42.4% 41.7% 41.1% 39.7% 38.6% 38.6% 37.2% 34.9% 34.1%

Ranked 7/10, less than 40% of our population lives within a 20-minute commute to work. The inability to access job centers is compounded after layering in economic empowerment factors that translate into a person’s marketability for opportunity.

Economic Stability Vision

Empower opportunity, for all. Economic Stability is far deeper than hourly rates of pay. The relationship between workers and the environment must exist together in a manner that allows an individual to achieve their full potential through autonomy and self-determination, while supporting them with necessary mobility safety nets.

Housing Burden

2019 % Population spending more than 30% of income on housing.



The market ranks last amongst peers for Economic Stability, an essential element for an environment to thrive.

St. Louis

Oklahoma City






Address work-adjacent issues that create barriers to employment and job quality. E.g., Affordable housing, transportation and childcare access, health care, and other living essentials that place a substantial burden on low-wage and middlewage workers.

Housing Burden by Census Tract 2015-2019 Households by Census Tract

Kansas City










New Orleans


Food Insecurity 2019

% Food Insecure Individuals, all ages

Low income, high poverty households are some of the most economically fragile. Shown below, census tracts in dark red are home to the highest share of households spending greater than 50% of household income on housing costs.

Percent of Households > 50% 30% < 10%

Indianapolis Nashville Milwaukee St. Louis Kansas City Louisville Oklahoma City Birmingham New Orleans Memphis

10.0% 11.6% 11.9% 12.3% 13.0% 13.5% 14.7% 15.0% 15.0% 18.5%

Ranked 10/10, over 18% of individuals in Greater Memphis are considered food insecure. These individuals may be required to make costly trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.

Economic Enablers

Powering Higher Quality Opportunities


Economic Presence and Industry Diversity


Double the number of jobs in Advanced Industries. The market ranks 10/10 in presence of Advanced Industries, a key indicator of economic prosperity. However, Memphis ranked 4/10 in 5year job growth in Advanced Industries. Advanced Industries tend to have higher concentrations of quality jobs across a broader set of occupational categories and can offer more aggressive career outlooks for citizens. A focused strategy on Advanced Industry growth can help the market accelerate job quality growth. If the market can continue to accelerate job growth in Advanced Industries, Memphis can improve its positioning over time.


To significantly improve positioning, Memphis needs to nearly double the number of jobs in Advanced Industries available in the market.

Job Growth in Adv. Industries Rank

Job Growth in Adv. Industries

Metro Area

Insight: Greater Memphis experienced 13.2% job growth in advanced industries from 2014 to 2019

Nashville Louisville

Kansas City Memphis

Indianapolis St. Louis

Birmingham Milwaukee

Oklahoma City New Orleans

Momentum in Industry






13.2% 11.7%


9.3% 3.4%




2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Advanced Industry Job Announcements

• • •

St. Jude Mullen Alphatec Spine

Economic Presence and Industry Diversity

New Approaches

Memphis Moves Marketing Campaign targets quality jobs in advanced industries.

Paired with an expanded business development team, the Greater Memphis Chamber is leveraging data and insights to execute world-class economic development marketing strategies proactively targeting site selectors and companies in key industry and geographic 20 areas.

Innovation Vision

Remain #1 for Diverse Tech Talent Within the regional benchmark, Memphis ranks 6/10 in the innovation category. Memphis ranks 9/10 in the presence of IT jobs. However, Greater Memphis excels in the presence of diverse tech talent, ranking 1/10 for tech jobs held by black or Hispanic individuals . Memphis ranks 6/10 in tech job growth 2014-2019, however peers in the top 4 of this measure are experiencing double digit growth. To improve, Memphis needs to increase and sustain growth in this measure by roughly 15%.


Bolstering our delivery of a robust tech talent pipeline enhances Greater Memphis as a location of choice for companies seeking to diversify their talent landscape.

Momentum in innovation

The city of Memphis is growing into a hotspot for Black entrepreneurs and tech talent with the assistance of innovative organization, Epicenter. This nonprofit is helping Memphis create and sustain an entrepreneurial ecosystem by investing and providing resources for Black tech startups. The current goal is to raise $100 million to fuel the future of the city, which is attracting Black tech talent in various industries across the world.

– Black Silicon Valley: How The City of Memphis Is Becoming A Hotspot for Black Tech Innovators, AfroTech, Sept. 2020

Share of Information Technology Jobs held by individuals of Black/Hispanic Origin 2019





New Orleans




Oklahoma City


St. Louis


Kansas City








Job Growth in Tech Occupations Insight: Greater Memphis experienced 9.6% job growth in computer occupations from 2014 to 2019 10,001








Workforce and Occupational Quality Vision

Focus on quality job creation aligned to in-demand career areas. Recent 5-year growth in the region’s civilian labor force, growth in STEM occupations, and improvements to the presence of opportunity/quality jobs has improved our position significantly. Greater Memphis ranks 5/10 in the presence of opportunity and quality jobs and 6/10 for STEM occupation growth from 2015 to 2019. To ensure advancement continues, Memphis must intentionally connect job preparation efforts to higher-wage, in-demand career opportunities.

Job Growth in STEM Occupations 10-year, 2009 to 2019


20 0

9 20 10 20 11 20 12 20 13 20 14 20 15 20 16 20 17 20 18 20 19


Momentum in Occupational Quality

Growth in STEM Occupations 5-Year, 2014/19

Louisville Nashville Indianapolis Kansas City St. Louis Memphis Birmingham Oklahoma City Milwaukee New Orleans

35.5% 23.9% 12.5% 11.1% 10.5% 10.1% 8.5% 7.5% 6.7% -0.1%

Insight: Growth in STEM based occupations expanded at a far exceeding its historical trajectory, expanding 1,850 (10.1%) from 2014 to 2019. Aligning job creation strategies from new and existing advanced industries will continue to bolster STEM based occupational growth.

UpSkill 901 initiative helps align Greater Memphis talent ecosystem By engaging workforce ecosystem partners across six pillars, the Greater Memphis Chamber works to align the region’s talent system.

Talent Vision

Improve job prospects by aligning programs to in-demand career areas within advanced industries. Memphis ranked 2/10 for the fastest growing STEM pipeline, 20.4% over the last 5 years. Total number of STEM graduates (5,600 in 2019) is 1/4th of the benchmark leader. To significantly improve positioning, Greater Memphis must align a strong talent pipeline to jobs to the advanced industry opportunities current in and targeted for the region. Memphis must improve the quantity of STEM graduates significantly. To reach the top half of this ranking, Greater Memphis would need to deliver nearly 2,000 more annual STEM graduates. STEM Graduates

Momentum in Talent

regional institutions expanded 20.4% from 2014 to 2019. This growth is supported by 78% completions growth in Computer Science, 24% growth in Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science, and 23% growth in Mechanical Engineering.

STEM Completions 2014 to 2019









STEM Graduate Growth


Indianapolis St. Louis Milwaukee Nashville Oklahoma City Kansas City Louisville New Orleans Memphis Birmingham

Insight: STEM graduate output from Momentum in Talent

5-Year, 2014/19

20,660 13,893 9,205 7,826 7,762 7,609 5,925 5,923 5,672 5,288

Indianapolis Memphis Oklahoma City Milwaukee Birmingham Louisville Nashville St. Louis New Orleans Kansas City

45.4% 20.4% 10.2% 7.2% 6.4% 4.4% -2.0% -2.8% -5.8% -16.9%

University of Memphis: Planned STEM Research Facility

$41 million - 65,000-square-foot STEM Research and Classroom

Economic Outcomes

Achieving Prosperous Outcomes for All


Inclusive Economic Growth


Ensure equitable access to higher quality jobs to all who want to work.

Real Gross Domestic Product Growth Annual percent change

The market ranks 9/10 for Inclusive Economic Growth, a primary input to achieving our objective. Decelerations in growth within regional GDP and employment alongside recent widening gaps amongst non-Hispanic White and Black/Hispanic origin populations have caused the Greater Memphis Market to slip in inclusive economic growth.

Opportunity Ensure all residents who want to work can access a job, regardless of gender, race, status, background, and location. Employment Rate Gap


0.8% 0.17%

2.0% 1.3% 1.2%

0.5% 0.07%


2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Employment Rate Gaps

White/ Black or of Hispanic Origin, 2015-2019

Nashville Oklahoma City Kansas City Birmingham New Orleans Louisville Memphis Indianapolis Milwaukee St. Louis


White/ Black or of Hispanic Origin

2.3% 2.9% 3.3% 4.6% 4.7% 4.8% 5.1% 5.2% 5.7% 6.2%

Greater Memphis ranked 7/10 for the employment rate gap between non-Hispanic white and Black/ Hispanic origin populations.

Catalyzing Growth and Reinforcing Access

will add positive pressure to economic inclusion.

8.0% 5.1%



Recent market growth encourages higher rates of employment for all demographic cohorts. Broadening access points for key populations will continue to support a tightening of the employment rate gap and improve outlooks for inclusion.

Shared Prosperity Vision

Empowering economic access to promote shared prosperity. The market ranks 10/10 for Shared Prosperity, the primary long-term objective of our work.

Income Inequality GINI Coefficient, 2019

Kansas City


St. Louis


Wealth is distributed more unequally in Greater Memphis than many competitive peers. These disparities further emphasize the importance of building access towards quality jobs.







Coordinated efforts across economic foundations and economic enablers are required to align strategic programming. These partnerships can address critical economic empowerment gaps in Greater Memphis.

Key Considerations

1 2 3 4 5

Job Creation: Bolster growth in higher

quality jobs and ensure job access to all who want to work.


Economic Fragility: Ensure workers are supported who face economic and employment fragility.

Future Ready: Build skills to prepare for jobs of the future.






New Orleans 0 = Perfectly Equal


1 = Perfectly Unequal

5-Year Estimates of Poverty Rate Gap

White/ Black or of Hispanic Origin 20.5%

who want to work are prepared with the necessary skills to fill new positions created. work-adjacent issues that create barriers to employment and job quality.


Oklahoma City

Job Preparation: Ensure all residents

Economic Empowerment: Address





Greater Memphis ranked 9/10 for the poverty rate gap between non-Hispanic white and Black/ Hispanic origin populations. Positive movement towards tightening the poverty rate gap between shines light into good work and a growing economy in Greater Memphis.


1. If Greater Memphis grew tech jobs at a rate consistent with the State of Tennessee, we would rank in the top 3 against our competitive set of peers by 2025. 2. If Greater Memphis doubled STEM completions from educational institutions over the next 5-years, we would rank in the top 3 in the production of STEM talent against our competitive peers.

we come together like never-before

3. If employment rates were equal between non-Hispanic white and Black/Hispanic Origin individuals, 17,000 more Black/Hispanic individuals would be employed. 4. If quality job growth were to expand at its current rate, 30,000 new quality jobs would be created over the next 5-years. 5. If we were to expand job growth in advanced industries at a rate consistent with the top 3 competitive peers, 50,000 people would be employed in advanced industries by 2025.


we can achieve unprecedented results


Imagining a future that is different from today can be difficult. Still, change happens – often faster than we expect. Early ideas for market transformation forecasts can come from signals of change. A signal of change is an innovation that has the potential to disrupt the status quo. Signals are key components of researching the future as they can reveal emerging patterns and future possibilities.

Our region has many elements of a strong economy. As we look towards bolstering our outlook for the future, the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Center for Economic Competitiveness, in concert with regional partners, will share critical national and local intelligence that can help guide conversation and activate action. Our goal is to bring stakeholders together and catalyze strong public/private partnerships and investment towards the strategies that can improve our market’s competitiveness for quality jobs. Leveraging our collective efforts, we can transform the future of our region and the lives of the people who live here.

The future is a new world which enhances current assets with new features built from the ground up. With our purpose and passion, we must be the one’s who build it.

Together, our business, government, and community leaders can align towards a shared vision for our region. A vision of quality, a vision of access, and a vision of opportunity, for all. 28