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 2015:

  • Civilian Labor Force - 614,499
  • Total Employment - 554,733
  • Unemployed - 39,766
  • Unemployment Rate - 6.5%

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 7,809
Univ. of Tennessee Health Science Center Medical School 3,075
Strayer University 4 Year Private University 2,155
Rhodes College 4 Year Private University 2,063
Arkansas State University-Mid-South
2 and 4 Year Public University
Christian Brothers University 4 Year Private University 1,842
Concorde Career College - Memphis
2 Year Private Vocational College
East Arkansas Community College 2 Year Public Vocational College 1,200
Baptist College of Health Sciences 4 Year Private College 1,079
Le Moyne Owen College 4 Year Private College 945
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Memphis Technical/Vocational Training 894
Rust College
4 Year Private College
University of Mississippi - Desoto 4 Year Public College 1,000
Rust College 4 Year Private College 856
Remington College
2 Year Private Vocational College
Delta Technical College Technical/Vocational Training 662
Vatterot College - Dividend 2 Year Private Vocational College 701
Southern College of Optometry Medical School 528
Memphis College of Art 4 Year Private University 410
L'ecole Culinaire - Memphis Culinary School 402
Vatterott Career College - Memphis Appling Farms 2 Year Private Vocational College 322
Concorde Career College - Southaven 2 Year Private College 274
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Covington Technical/Vocational Training 273
William Moore College of Technology 2 Year Private Vocational College 269
Memphis Theological Seminary 4 Year Private University 267
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Whiteville 2 Year Public Vocational College 241
Crowley's Ridge Technical Institute 2 Year Public Vocational College 205
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Ripley 2 Year Public Vocational College 204
Delta Technical College 2 Year Private Vocational College 178
Total   59,790
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics and Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Fall 2015 Enrollment


Labor Data Tool

Real-time Workforce Information

Real-time Workforce Information
The Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACWorkforce) recently conducted a workforce analysis designed to identify the employment needs of the major industry sectors in the Memphis metro, employers workforce needs, barriers to employment by local job seekers and recommendations of higher education training programs to meet local employer’s needs. Click here to access the 2016 Labor Study.


Memphis Workforce Assets

Top Occupations in Demand
Customer Service Representatives in these industries:  Information Technology, Logistics, Manufacturing, and especially the Finance, Insurance, & 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.


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 $94,744
Business and Financial Operations Occupations $62,612
Computer and Mathematical Occupations $70,548
Architecture and Engineering Occupations $73,996
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations $61,357
Community and Social Service Occupations $41,070
Legal Occupations $95,330
Education, Traning and Library Occupations $48,403
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations $47,070
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations $70,752
Healthcare Support Occupations $26,649
Protective Service Occupations $34,664
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations $19,875
Buiding and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations $24,238
Personal Care and Service Occupations $22,660
Sales and Related Occupations $36,890
Office and Administrative Support Occupations $34,488
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations $27,946
Construction and Extraction Occupations $39,809
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations $43,121
Production Occupations $34,179
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations $32,728
Source: State of Tennessee, OES Data June 2016


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