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 2012:

  • Civilian Labor Force - 615,740
  • Total Employment - 560,503
  • Unemployed - 55,273
  • Unemployment Rate - 9.0%

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 8,224
Univ. of Tennessee Health Science Center Medical School 2,815
Strayer University
4 Year Private University
Victory University 4 Year Private University 2,012
Mid-South Community College 2 Year Community College 1,980
Rhodes College
4 Year Private University
Christian Brothers University
4 Year Private University
University of Phoenix - Memphis Campus
4 Year Private University
Concorde Career College - Memphis 2 Year Private Vocational College 1,228
Le Moyne Owen College
4 Year Private College
Baptist College of Health Sciences 4 Year Private College 1,043
Vatterott Career College - Memphis Dividend Drive
2 Year Private Vocational College
University of Mississippi - Desoto 4 Year Public College 1,000
Rust College 4 Year Private College 934
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Memphis Technical/Vocational Training 850
Remington College
2 Year Private Vocational College
Anthem Career College 2 Year Private Vocational College 716
Delta Technical College
Technical/Vocational Training
ITT Technical Institute - Cordova 4 Year Private College 582
Southern College of Optometry Medical School 198
L'ecole Culinaire - Memphis Culinary School 498
Memphis College of Art 4 Year Private College 401
Vatterott Career College - Memphis Appling Farms
2 Year Private Vocational College
DeVry University - Tennessee 4 Year Private University 331
Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide Memphis Campus 4 Year Private Not-For-Profit University 251
Memphis Theological Seminary Seminary 304
DeVry University's Keller Graduate School of Management Graduate Business School 208
Crowley's Ridge College 2 year and 4 year private college 210
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Covington Technical/Vocational Training 201
William Moore College of Technology 2 Year Private Vocational College 193
Visible Music College 4 Year Private College 122
National College of Business and Technology - Memphis 2 Year Private College Not available
National College of Business and Technology - Bartlett 2 Year Private College Not available
Total   67,145
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2011 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, 2012-2013

Industry 2013
% Change
Natural Resources, Mining & Construction
20,600 -1.0
Retail Trade
63,200 2.1
Wholesale Trade
33,600 0.9
Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities 63,900 64,700 -1.2
Information            6,000 6,100 -1.6
Financial Activities   27,400 27,400 0.0
Professional & Business Services 86,100 84,400 2.0
Education and Health Services 86,400 84,600 2.1
Leisure and Hospitality 63,400 62,900 0.8
Other Services         24,100 24,000 0.4
Government 84,300 85,700 -1.6
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013


Memphis-Area Wages by Occupation Type

Memphis Metro Wages by Occupation Type, May 2012

Occupation Type
Mean Annual Wage
Management Occupations $93,690
Business and Financial Operations Occupations $61,860
Computer and Mathematical Occupations $62,370
Architecture and Engineering Occupations $75,400
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations $62,370
Community and Social Service Occupations $41,980
Legal Occupations $86,410
Education, Traning and Library Occupations 46,010
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations $42,760
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations $66,370
Healthcare Support Occupations $26,890
Protective Service Occupations $35,000
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations $19,210
Buiding and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations $23,660
Personal Care and Service Occupations $22,340
Sales and Related Occupations $36,420
Office and Administrative Support Occupations $33,130
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations $25,510
Construction and Extraction Occupations $36,040
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations $42,890
Production Occupations $32,000
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations $32,270
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013


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