Ready to Work

Memphis offers a diverse, metropolitan workforce at wage rates that are lower than most other parts of the country. The region is home to a host of world-class higher education institutions, including the largest community college in Tennessee; a number of vocational and technical training facilities and nationally ranked public and private school systems. Over the past three decades, the presence of companies like FedEx and the region’s superior distribution infrastructure have earned Memphis the title, “America’s Distribution Center.” During the same period the region’s workforce has had a higher percentage of logistics workers than any other metropolitan area in the country.

Did you know:

  • Tennessee is a right to work state.
  • The median age of the Memphis workforce is 35.
  • Memphis has a large concentration of corporate office, logistics and life science employees.
  • Memphis offers exceptional universities, community colleges and vocational/technical schools with tailored programs for industry.
  • Click here to learn of the many training and assistance programs offered as incentives to developing and maintaining a highly qualified and skilled workforce.
  • Click here to learn more about training and assistance programs specific to the transportation and logistics industry in "Memphis: America's Aerotropolis."
Quick Links
Workforce Depth & Breadth Employment by Industry
Labor Data Tool Wages by Occupation Type
Memphis Workforce Assets Workforce Investment Network

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 2014:

  • Civilian Labor Force - 607,820
  • Total Employment - 560,000
  • Unemployed - 47,820
  • Unemployment Rate - 7.9%

Workforce Training: Memphis-Area Colleges & Universities

Institution Type Total Enrollment
University of Memphis
4 Year Public University
Southwest Tennessee Community College
2 Year Community College
Northwest Mississippi Community College 2 Year Community College 7,559
Univ. of Tennessee Health Science Center Medical School 2,976
University of Phoenix - Memphis Campus 4 Year Private University 2,485
Rhodes College 4 Year Private University 2,054
Strayer University
4 Year Private University
Arkansas State University-Mid-South 2 and 4 Year Public University 1,895
Christian Brothers University
4 Year Private University
Concorde Career College - Memphis 2 Year Private Vocational College 1,310
Baptist College of Health Sciences 4 Year Private College 1,170
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Memphis Technical/Vocational Training 1,051
Le Moyne Owen College
4 Year Private College
University of Mississippi - Desoto 4 Year Public College 1,000
Rust College 4 Year Private College 963
Vatterott Career College - Memphis Dividend Drive
2 Year Private Vocational College
Delta Technical College Technical/Vocational Training 662
Remington College 2 Year Private Vocational College 633
ITT Technical Institute - Cordova 4 Year Private College 545
Southern College of Optometry Medical School 527
DeVry University - Tennessee 4 Year Private University 446
L'ecole Culinaire - Memphis Culinary School 442
Memphis College of Art 4 Year Private College 435
National College of Business and Technology - Memphis 2 Year Private College 354
Vatterott Career College - Memphis Appling Farms
2 Year Private Vocational College
Memphis Theological Seminary Seminary 279
William Moore College of Technology 2 Year Private Vocational College 249
Crowley's Ridge College 2 year and 4 year private college 212
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Covington Technical/Vocational Training 244
National College of Business and Technology - Bartlett 2 Year Private College 241
Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide Memphis Campus 4 Year Private Not-For-Profit University 202
Visible Music College 4 Year Private College 112
DeVry University's Keller Graduate School of Management Graduate Business School Not available
Total   64,986
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics and Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Fall 2014 Enrollment


Labor Data Tool

Real-time Workforce Information

The Greater Memphis Chamber recently conducted a regional workforce analysis designed to assist businesses finding the qualified workers they need. This exhaustive study included interviews with 3,110 workers, 191 employer surveys, interviews with 65 key workforce influencers and five focus groups with community representatives in the 52 counties surrounding Memphis.

The data delivery system allows users to develop custom reports from the wealth of data that has been collected through the workforce analysis process. Reports can be developed for sub-sets of counties within the region and for individual counties. The data is GIS based-allowing the user to create custom labor profiles within a radius of a specific site or employer. Click here to access the 2009 Labor Study.


Memphis Workforce Assets

Huge Hidden Potential Workforce*

  • Underemployed: 177,604
  • Not Employed, Wanting Work: 483,440
  • Over 20% of the Memphis Workforce are college graduates
  • Total Hidden Labor Supply: 661,044

Large Percentage of Employed & Unemployed are Interested in Training*

  • 42.6% Want to Upgrade Skills (458,335 people)
  • Leading Fields of Interest among Workforce are Nursing and other medical-related fields

Employers Report*:

  • Above Average Work Ethic and Productivity
  • Good Availability of Unskilled and Semi-Skilled Workers
  • Region Perceived as a Low Wage Location
  • Belief that Region Can Support Higher Skilled Emerging Industries

Excellent Foundation for Economic Expansion*

  • Higher Number of Post-Secondary Institutions than comparable Southeastern areas
  • Good corporate presence and base
  • FedEx Hub and Other Excellent Transportation Assets
  • Existing Industry Clusters

*Note: data from the 52 county region in Southwest Tennessee, Northern Mississippi, Eastern Arkansas and Southeast Missouri surrounding Memphis


Employment by Industry

Memphis Metro Employment by Industry, 2014-2015

Industry 2015
% Change
Natural Resources, Mining & Construction
21,000 3.3
Retail Trade
65,600 0.5
Wholesale Trade
33,600 3.6
Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities 67,800 65,400 3.7
Information            5,800 6,000 -3.3
Financial Activities   27,600 27,400 0.7
Professional & Business Services 97,000 93,100 4.2
Education and Health Services 89,800 89,100 0.8
Leisure and Hospitality 65,100 64,800 0.5
Other Services         24,300 24,000 1.3
Government 81,000 81,300 -0.4
Source: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development


Memphis Area Wages by Occupation Type

Memphis Metro Wages by Occupation Type, May 2015

Occupation Type
Mean Annual Wage
Management Occupations $94,740
Business and Financial Operations Occupations $62,610
Computer and Mathematical Occupations $70,550
Architecture and Engineering Occupations $74,000
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations $61,360
Community and Social Service Occupations $41,070
Legal Occupations $95,330
Education, Traning and Library Occupations $48,400
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations $47,070
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations $70,750
Healthcare Support Occupations $26,650
Protective Service Occupations $34,660
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations $19,880
Buiding and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations $24,240
Personal Care and Service Occupations $22,660
Sales and Related Occupations $36,890
Office and Administrative Support Occupations $34,490
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations $27,950
Construction and Extraction Occupations $39,810
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations $43,120
Production Occupations $34,180
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations $32,730
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 OES Data


Workforce Investment Network

Workforce Investment Network is a community resource dedicated to improving employment opportunities in Memphis, Shelby County, and Fayette County. WIN integrates the resources and activities of several federal programs. By fusing these programs into one focused workforce development service location, WIN helps match job seekers with local businesses who are hiring, and provides residents with services, training, skills, and education to promote personal growth and professional advancement.

For more information about the Workforce Investment Network, visit